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Elliott, LPCC, NCC
Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 7664
Experience:  35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
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My wife and I had a small argument last night over a silly

Customer Question

My wife and I had a small argument last night over a silly thing, which we have on occasion. We seem to be having more and more of these types of arguments lately so after reflecting on what happened, I sent her an email and we sent several replies back and forth. It was a silly argument, but I'm baffled by her final response. She will not discuss any further.

I would appreciate your incite,
John



Sarah,
There is a communication issue that we are having that I believe is starting arguments. Last night was an example of it.

When I ask a question like "Did you see my hat in the ski box?" This question in no way says that I expected you to look for it or be responsible for my hat. I saw that you went through the ski box so I thought I would ask if you had seen my hat. Any answer is fine, but I don't think it is right for you to get mad at me for asking or to interpret my question as me telling you to do something.

I am not following up on this one incident because I think this one incident is critical, I am bringing it up because I have noticed many times that when I ask you something to make conversation or just as any person would ask another person something, you appear to get upset and often respond as if I told you to do something. Please understand that when I ask a question, just answering the question is fine and that there are not expectations that you should have done something.

I think that this is the origin of some of our arguments and I will try to notice them in the future and clear them up before they become an argument.
Love,
John

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John,
I appreciate you writing your response but I am not in the mood to have multiple conversations about a hat. You verbally shared it 3 times last night and then texted it, that is way more time than I want to spend on a hat issue.
Sarah

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Sarah
As I said in my email, I didn't write the email about the hat. The communication issue I am describing is something that I am seeing repeated over and over. I am trying my best to improve our communications and I would appreciate it if you read my complete email and recognize it's meaning instead of trivializing it.
John

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John
you REALLY need to stop telling people how to be!
I'm done communicating on this issue.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 3 years ago.
Seeking expert testimony is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective

Dear friend,

I believe that I can help.

I read the exchanges that you have with your wife.

You both had good points, but the crux of the problem seems to be that you are both trying to be the one that is right and has the last word.

Your wife is a bit tempermental and may be looking for a way to vent her other frustrations. Knowing this you could have asked her if she had seen your hat when she looked in the box and she said no then the best answer might be "thanks, I'll have to keep looking", or knowing how she is, not given her the edge or opportunity for such a response by not asking at all and looking yourself.

You cannot change her that much but you can avoid fueling her negative reactions by monitoring what you say and how you say it to her.

Yes, I understand this is less than ideal, and it stifles sponteneity, but it also stifles these arguments which take up not only energy but leave you anxious, depressed, and frustrated, and require much too much time spent in exchanges such as the above which only makes things apparently worse. It never resolves but only incites.

She is on guard all the time and you DO want to change that. The best way is to stop pushing her very sensitive triggers, and anticipate her possible reactions.

This is the best way to break the cycle.

If she triggers YOU, on the other hand, just let it go. It takes too to have an argument and disagreement. Don't let them happen by practicing this kind of Zen-like self restraint. Restrain not only your words but your body language as well (no rolling of eyes, and so forth).

I wish you great strength and perseverance and shall keep both of you in my prayers.

Warm regards,

Elliot, MAE, LPCC, NCC, CCMHC

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