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03 Feb 2004

Boiling point
Hi doc

I have been married to my husband for a few years now and am getting extremely frustrated with him. I am at the point where I just feel angry and weepy all the time. The problem is this. If I do something he does not like he becomes sulky and withdrawn. If I ask him what is wrong he says nothing. After a few days of silent treatment things get back to normal and we carry on as if nothing has happened. If he does something that I dont like, I either pretend that I am cross with the children or keep quiet. If he suspects that I am cross with him he ignores me and gives me the silent treatment again. If I tell him whats wrong then he gets sulky for the next few days and then I end up sulking. We have spoken about this and I have told him that we need to talk about whats bothering us but he wont. He just says that he hates confrontation. I have now become so emotional that if we do discuss issues then I dont know what to say and how to express myself properly and we dont resolve anything because I end up crying and walking away. I always have to be very careful about what I say to him because he becomes so sulky and down that I cant live with him. We have never a real argument in 7 years and I feel extremely frustrated so I end up taking it out on my kids which I realy hate. Its as if I just dont have any patience left for them. Everytime I am upset with him I end up shouting at my kids for everything they do. I love my husband and want my marriage to work but he also only seems to be happy when we are out with friends or he is playing golf. At home he almost always has a long face, probably because he realises I am upset with him. How am I supposed to just let everything go by without discussion. Regular household things are not a problem. We can discuss these things and each give input and come to a decision. Its only a problem if one of us is upset with the other. I feel ready to explode but I know if I do I will end up crying uncontrollably again which is exactly what I am trying to hold back while I am writing to you.
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Expert
CyberShrink
cybershrink

01 Jan 0001

Dear Island,
Sounds like an awful lot of sulking going on. And it sounds as if your man has really not, in the past, experienced actual problem-solving by constructive discussion --- he sems to see the alternatives, when any problem or irritation arises, of either confrontation and a fight, or sulking while pretending that there's nothing wrong.
You say something interesting and promising, though. You say " Regular household things are not a problem. We can discuss these things and each give input and come to a decision" and then "Its only a problem if one of us is upset with the other."
Instead of demanding that he talk about emotional issues, and then echoing his sulky behaviour when predictably he wont talk emotions ; praise and compliment him on how helpful and constructive he is when you two have regular household things to discuss --- how valuable it is that you can discuss them so well, each giving input, and making a better decision that either might make on their own. You can say that you AGREE with him that it's not worth trying to discuss emotionally important issues when either or both of you are upset or angry, and suggest that when such issues arise, you both agree to let the steam clear, but to note the issue, and to set aside some time to talk about it calmly and cooly ?
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