Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My husband is so passive he will put up with almost anything to avoid conflict. Recently, our adult son has begun cursing at me when he’s angry with me. My brother-in-law, similarly, called me an extremely offensive name in my husband’s presence. Both times, I reacted. Husband acted as though nothing occurred.
I’m so hurt and angry I’m considering moving out for a while, though I love my husband dearly. Counseling in the past hasn’t helped with his passivity. Any ideas?
You are hurt, which suggests you take it personally that your husband didn’t stand up for you – but you also seem to recognize that it’s not about you at all, it’s about him. He is passive. He will put up with almost anything to avoid conflict. There’s no, “How dare you say that about my wife?!” clause in his emotional makeup.
So, can you live with that? Can you stay with him because you love him, knowing full well that you’re on your own when things get heated? How else does such passivity affect you, him, and your family, and are there bright sides (or other problems) in these side effects?
That’s a puzzle I suggest you take up in counseling of your own. Not marriage counseling, but individual, where you can wrestle out loud not only with the question of how much spousal frailty is too much, but also with the question of how you handle your family dynamics from now on. Your son’s profane rages are sending you the message that there’s more to this than your husband.
Dear Carolyn: I have learned recently that my mom was not fond of a boyfriend I had about 10 years ago. She brings him up once in a while, randomly, just to mention that she thought he was ugly and she couldn’t believe I was with him.
He never treated me poorly, and we broke up because we were young and got bored. I never had any major issues with him, and when we were dating, my mom never mentioned her distaste.
I’m not sure how to deal with her need to provide this information now. On one hand, I really don’t care about how she felt toward someone whose last name I don’t even remember, but on the other hand, it’s oddly insulting to me that she brings him up just to trash his appearance. She does this with one of my sibling’s exes in particular, too, so I feel like I should have just a quick way of getting the subject to change, since hating her kids’ exes is apparently one of her quirks. Any suggestions?
“Mom, any reason you keep bringing up this ex? At this point the only impression I have is that you’re overly concerned with appearances, so if there’s more to it, then you probably want to say so now.”
Mama’s the ugly one here, I’m afraid, so give her a chance to clean herself up.
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