‘As his wife, I should tell him how incompetent he is’

Chicago, IL–An interesting tidbit from an advice column. First the letter, then my response. From Wife always criticizing ‘wonderful’ husband (Toronto Star, 3/22/08): “Dear Ellie: “Q. My husband of three years is a wonderful husband and father whom I love. However, I constantly tell him when I feel that he’s acting inappropriately or saying something that doesn’t make sense. “I believe that I do things the best way and that I know everything.
Yet I know this is ridiculous and unfair to him. Though he’ll get upset when I tell him these things, I still feel that, as his wife, I should tell him what I really think, e.g., if he’s putting something together too slowly for me, I’ll tell him how incompetent he is. I feel horrible when I do this but don’t know how to shut my mouth. “Controlling in Chicago “A: I’m sensing a roar of responses from readers who, like your hubby, have had to deal with know-it-alls. I’m sure they’re saying a collective, “Watch out!” “Consider this possibility: Some day, your husband will find someone who lets him be himself, and he’ll soon be putting things together, in just the right amount of time, for her. “Start controlling yourself. Since you already recognize your oppressive behaviour is unfair (your children will come to resent it, too), start figuring out what in your past made you need to always be ‘right’ and the teacher of everyone. If you can’t source and stop this compulsive drive, which is ultimately unhealthy for any of your relationships, seek professional help.–Ellie” As for me, I’ll give “Controlling in Chicago” credit for at least recognizing her behavior and wanting to change it. The advice columnist’s response “Some day, your husband will find someone who lets him be himself” is dead-on accurate, but let me add a little bit. Yes, someday he will find a woman who does like him for what he is, and with whom he isn’t always wrong. He’ll go to her and either have an affair or leave his wife for her. In either case, he’ll be vilified for “betraying” his wife, “abandoning” his family, etc. He’ll be the bad guy and she’ll be the long-suffering saint, and she’ll make sure that one way or another their kids see it that way, too. The story will always be seen as woman good/man bad, and the husband’s protestations that his wife mistreated him will be shunted aside and given no weight by anybody.

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