I love your advice column and I always burst out laughing at some of the stuff you say.
I have a fairly simple question. I’ve been married to my husband for almost 2 years. We have a baby girl and we are raising his son from a previous relationship. For the most part we’re happy. We have a great friendship and we have fun together. He can always make me smile and vice versa.
The problem is he gets in these moods and will be pretty cold to me at random. He shuts down, won’t really interact with me, stays in another room of the house and has me wondering what I did to deserve it. After about 4 days of treating me like a roommate, he’ll tell me what it is and it’s always something that seems so trivial to me.
Once he ignored me for a week because I left the peanut butter on the counter. When I find out why he’s acting like that I almost always get mad because I feel like it’s stupid to waste so much time being mad over nonsense. Life is too short. However, I know he has a hard time with expressing himself and that’s how his mother who raised him acts.
It’s Thursday night and he’s had an attitude with me since Sunday afternoon. How do I get him to talk about what’s bothering him and how do I ride the rollercoaster until he’s ready to talk? – Annoyed Wife
Dear Ms. Annoyed Wife,
Thank you for the love! I truly appreciate it and the support.
Girl, you are better than me. I would leave his a** sitting there pouting and being upset. I would be out enjoying myself, getting my life, and let him be mad all by his damn self. I would refuse to let his misery, anger, and pouting bring me down, especially in my own damn house! No, ma’am. I’ll be like, “When you’re ready to be an adult and a grown man, and you’re ready to talk, let me know. I didn’t do anything to you. So, sit there and be mad all you want, but I’m not going to let you rain on my happiness and joy. And, I’m not going to walk around here being ignored and acting like you don’t see me.” Then, I’d blast me some Beyonce, Jay-Z, Kanye, Two Chainz, Kendrick Lamar, and Big Sean and get my life!!! LOL!
But, I digress. Now, to the matter of you and your husband and him shutting down, avoiding communication, and being distance over things you consider stupid. Well, obviously they are not stupid to him, and therefore he is making a big deal out of those small and incidental matters. Those little things are big and monumental to him. But why? What is triggering his meltdowns and making him shut you out?
So, let’s explore why he is acting like a big baby and throwing tantrums over small things like you leaving the peanut butter on the counter. (Chile, I’d leave the bread and jelly out as well. LOL! Let me stop.) Uhm, honestly, he may suffer from a mental illness, or he could quite possibly suffer from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).
First, let’s explore the route of mental illness. You state that he is unable to express himself, and as a result he shuts down and gets angry, which you state is how his mother who raised him acts as well. Well, mental illness is inherited and genetically passed from parent to child. If his mother suffers from a mental illness, and he is exhibiting the same behaviors, then it’s quite possible that whatever it is he has gotten it from her. And, they may have never been diagnosed. I would first recommend that you ask him if he has ever been diagnosed with a mental disorder. Something is truly off about his behavior, and he may not know it. But, you need to ask him. And, then I recommend asking him if he would be interested in speaking with someone about his behavior.
I find his behavior to be too extreme especially for simple things that everyday people would find minor and incidental. However, he is making a huge deal about them. There is something bigger at hand for him, and it’s irritating him and causing him to have these huge meltdowns. That is not normal. He needs to be diagnosed, seriously.
One other possibility is that he may have control issues. He wants things done a certain way, and when they are not he blows up, shuts down, and can’t figure out why you won’t do what he wants you to do. He feels out of control that he can’t control you. So, he figures that in shutting down, not speaking, and avoiding you will hopefully get you to get in line and to listen to him. Again, this is speculation. But, I strongly urge that he speaks with a psychologist, or therapist to get to the root of his anger and meltdowns. There is something bigger at hand, and you are not going to get to the bottom of it. He needs professional help. However, I can bet everything that it definitely has something to do with his mother.
But, I’m giving you a quick side-eye Ms. Thing because his behavior is nothing new. He’s always been this way. So, I don’t understand why you didn’t recognize this before you got married. Or, you simply chose to ignore it, and figured he would change. SMDH! Chile, the first time he would have done something like this I would have ran for the hills. No looking back. You won’t ignore me and treat me like the damn enemy!
Next, my second observation is that he may suffer from OCD. He wants things done in a certain way. He wants things placed where they belong. He needs order in his life. And, when these things are not in alignment he breaks down. It causes him to shut down emotionally and mentally. He can’t understand why the world, especially his wife, does not understand him, and the order of things he needs to have in his life. His mother could have been a strict disciplinarian, and in order to get him to do things the way she wanted them she ignored him, stopped speaking, and then after a few days of torturing him with the silent treatment she chastised him. That is cruel and damaging behaviors, and also a learned behavior.
Again, both of these behaviors will require him to see a professional and seek treatment for them. There is something at the root of his meltdowns, and not speaking to you. Those little things are so huge to him that it causes him to mentally and emotionally check out (controlling you by trying to show you he’s mad), and then when he feels like speaking (controlling the conversation and making things on his terms) he yells and tells you what you did wrong. Again, this another control mechanism of making you out to the bad guy because you didn’t know what you did wrong and why you keep doing these things to him. His anger is displaced. He needs help.
So, now that he is doing it again, and he’s not speaking, just wait until he comes to you and then just listen. Hear what he is saying, and what it is related to. Then sit with him, tell him how much you love him, and let him know that he needs professional help because you refuse to be the bad guy. You refuse to be mistreated and made to feel guilty over something that is bothering him. You refuse to be treated like an outsider in your own home. And, you refuse to see him suffer and be miserable while you are happy and want a joyful and loving marriage. Let him know that it is a priority in order for your marriage to work. You’re on his side, but he needs to be on his own side and recognize the damage he is doing to you, your family, and your marriage. – Terrance Dean
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