Any Suggestions on How NOT to Feel So Annoyed All the Time?

I definitely criticize and nag my ADD wife way too often.  It is something I have been working on, but I am not always successful.  In fact, I am NOT successful way too often.

Here's what I have been doing:

When my wife does something (or doesn't do something) that annoys me, and I recognize that it annoys me, I tell myself not to take it personally, because she didn't MEAN to annoy me.  And I KNOW that is true.  Sometimes that works, and sometimes I still feel annoyed.

So then I try to talk myself out of feeling annoyed.  I might say to myself  "It's really nothing.  There's no reason to be annoyed about that."  Sometimes that works, and sometimes I still feel annoyed.

So then I might say "Just do it yourself, and move on."  Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't.

So then I say to myself, "OK, so, you're annoyed.  It's not important enough to say anything about.  Just forget it."  Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't.

So - sometimes I CAN manage not to feel annoyed, and sometimes I CAN overlook it even if I do.

But sometimes, no matter how hard I try, I still end up being annoyed.  I know that's MY problem.  I know it is not RIGHT for me to be annoyed so often.  And I know I need to continue to work on that.

I definitely DO plan to continue to try to not be annoyed so often.  Maybe our work with the 5 Languages of Love book will help us here. (If my wife communicates her love in MY love language more often, maybe I won't feel annoyed so much.  Just as if I communicate my love to her in HER love language more often, she probably won't feel criticized so much.)   I know if we follow Ned Hallowell's advice to spend more time together without distraction it will help.  That's also why I have been using this ADHD and Marriage blog, not because I think SHE or her ADHD are the problem, but because I think it will help ME not be so annoyed by some of the things she does that ARE related to her ADHD.) 

In the meantime, while I work on not being annoyed so often, I'm wondering if anyone might be able to offer some helpful suggestions of things I can do when I DO feel annoyed, despite my best efforts not to

At this point, it seems that when I feel annoyed, I only have two choices.  I can either swallow my feelings, or I can say something.

If I swallow my feelings, they fester, and that's not good.

If I say something, even when I try to say it gently and with love, it seems to come across as nagging or critical, THAT's not good either.

But maybe there's another option I'm just not seeing.  Maybe you can suggest something else I can do or say that helps me not feel annoyed without making my wife feel bad.  

Forums: 

Sorry

After years of swallowing and festering, I have learned how to ignore my feelings. Now I'm just numb. It affects other areas of my life so, I can't recommend it. I'd love to hear a few suggestions myself!

Just Curious...

As to how long you've actually been w/your wife.  It seems that you haven't hit "insanity" yet...thats why I asked. lol  Like Clarity stated, after years of this, you have to shut your feelings off, and become quite numb to it.  During the period of your spouse not being treated, its not humanly possible for any positive outcome other than to just ignore it.  You have to take yourself to a very dark lonely place to survive the turmoil, and eventually that place will be your safe haven.  It's very devastating and wreaks psycological damage, so what I found in the end in all of this, is to just shift your focus on yourself.  Thats the only positive thing you can do until she gets the proper treatment...is really save yourself.  Trust me...you'll save years of pain and damage if you focus on doing positive things for YOURSELF.  Only until she get meds (first) and therapy (second) into effect, their brains wouldn't register/retain what you are saying anyway, and you're only setting yourself up for constant frustation by repeating yourself like a broken record.  Finding yourself a specialized therapist takes off a lot of edge also, after finding the proper meds.  I would suggest you take a tape recorder and/or notebook to refer back to.  Then theres no argument on what was exactly said and suggested to do.  Like my therapist stated, and what I've found out true after all these years, is that until the meds start getting their brain functioning properly...they can read all the books they want, attend all the therapy sessions they can, and you can work w/them one on one 24/7, but they still won't get it.  Even w/that, theres still no guarantee, but it should be more tolerable...depending on what your level of tolerance is.  Good Luck!!!     

Looking for Coping Strategies

My wife and I were married last September after living together for 2 years.  At my suggestion, she has gotten a formal diagnosis and has been on meds for about two years now.  It wasn't hard to get her to agree to seek a diagnosis as her adult son was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 3 or 4, and she was always saying "I think I probably have ADHD."  Somehow, though, she never realized the effect it had on her, and particularly how it was affecting her in social situations, until I started giving her feedback.  No-one ever "complained" to her before!  She has worked very hard over the years to get and stay organized, using the "Getting Things Done" method, and she has been quite successful with it.  So I feel VERY lucky, because my life isn't anywhere near as chaotic as some of the lives I read about on this blog.  I know she is working very hard and doing all she can do to improve, and she has done some reading about how ADHD affects things like communication.  I don't think there's any more I can ask of her in terms of her dealing with her ADHD - except maybe she would benefit by some coaching, and I might suggest that to her at some point.  But I think we've both focused enough on the ADHD for the time being (I really don't want her feeling everything that is wrong with our relationship is because of her ADHD - because I'm sure it isn't!).  So right now I really AM just focusing on myself.  And what I am trying to do is to learn to stay focused on the positive about my wife and our relationship as much as I can.  And when that doesn't work, and I find myself feeling angry and frustrated, I want to have some coping strategies that I can use for myself that help me feel less angry and frustrated.  So it's suggestions for coping strategies that I am looking for.  I'd welcome any tips non-ADHD spouses have tried that work.  Thanks!

Coping Strategies

Here are some for me:

working out (one of the best ways I relieve anger and I feel great afterwards because I've done something good for myself)

writing in a journal (or on this blog)

talking to my therapist

getting a massage/manicure/pedicure

taking a day off work and working on some project I've been wanting to do, or catching up on magazines I've been wanting to read etc.  (you probably don't need to do this if you don't have kids, but that's the only way I can get a whole day to myself)

planting a garden

connecting with friends (warning: as per marriage fitness, i've stopped talking about my husband to my friends.  I've found that while it helps to be "heard," it ends up making me feel angrier/more annoyed, and then I've also poisoned my friends against my husband)

reading old love letters and cards (warning: this can backfire sometimes, because it can remind you even more about what your spouse no longer says/does.  But usually, it helps me to reconnect with the "human" part of him, that I fell in love with.)

planning a date or something to do together on a regular basis -- this is a huge one.  we started taking a class together once a week (on how to read tarot, it's kind of quirky and random but we have a lot of fun) and it ensures that at least once a week we connect over something that is not house/kids/work related.

Those are just some ideas.  get back to who you are and what you like to do.  It's hard for me, because I feel like I need to focus on the ADD and "fix it" (like I'm fixing everything else, it always seems).  But taking time for yourself really can help the anger and resentment not accumulate so much. 

Love Letters...

Wow Ren,  I give you credit for actually keeping your old love letters.  I threw away all my cards/letters  years ago.  It was during one of our "big fights" where we had broken up...again.  I read them all one last time before I dumped them.  Sometimes I regret it, but most of the time I don't.  Most of the cards were "Sorry" cards. lol  It just made me depressed and angry when I read them.  He stopped giving me them already, because he knows that it'll end up in the trash.  Now he just sticks to flowers...basically thats more acceptable and resembles our relationship.  The beauty and joy only lasts a short time, then withers and dies.  Sorry, don't mean to be depressing, but he threw me a curve ball last night...again.  Still standing and continuing what I planned to set out to do though.  Just irritated, and venting.       

You're Sooo Lucky...

That you hit those positive milestones so early in your relationship.  It sounds like your wife is very in tune w/her ADHD,  and is doing everything that most of us are envious that she's done and doing w/out all the hardships associated for us to get our spouses to do.  Count your blessings Hoping4More...personally, I think I would be satisfied, and settle w/an ENDING result like yours.  lol  I do understand your point though, and you sound like you've got the right attitude and approach w/all of this.  She also is very lucky to have you supporting her.  As far as coping skills go...what do you normally do when you get angered and frustrated with non-ADHD persons.  Basically its back to shifting back to yourself.  If you know your anger/frustration is elevating, I would stop right there, and tell her this in a monotone voice.  She can sense this, and thats when their defense and irrational thinking comes into play.  You know you will get nowhere, and from personal experience things said that are said when parties are in this mode are most times regretted.  Tell her that its just you, and not her, and that you're trying to undertand exactly what dynamics are happening right now w/your feelings.  In other words, you don't want to shut her out, but if you need to take 5-10 minutes, or however long it takes you to do things like exercise, read, listen to music, or whatever you enjoy that relaxes you...tell her this.  When you come back you'll have a more positive attitude, thus followed by positive approach. 

When you say that "she's" been working really hard, and that "we've both focused enough on the ADHD for the time being", I was just wondering if you have attended any therapy sessions she may have.  Couples who are non-ADHD attend marriage counseling, not only because their marriage is in trouble.  They may just go to find ways to "better" their relationship.  Same as w/ADHD therapy.  I suggest maybe attending therapy perhaps once a month if you haven't done that already.  Just to maintain and learn how to "better" your relationship.  Not to "fix", seeming that your wife's ADHD is in control.  I find great relief, when I have gone in the past, where I can explain and ask questions regarding a specific situation, and get my questions answered in the most constructive way that I could possibly go about it.  I really find therapy highly effective.  You get answers really fast, considering your spouse has to answer what is being asked pronto.  Theres no beating around the bush, and during therapy, communication starts to fly.  If you feel that it's too much to ask of her already...then go for yourself.  Us non-ADHD spouses frequently do that, because most times our ADHD spouses will not go.  Perhaps you can even ask your wife directly about this.  Ever trying that?  What if she just wants you to hold her, when you start feeling this way?  Open up the communication line w/her, if you feel she won't take it defensively.  You know when the right moment is to strike up open communication. 

As far as what has worked for me...therapy is a guarantee.  Doing things for myself that makes me relax works too.  Communicating w/my spouse on issues is a 50/50.  Timing is key though from what I've observed...when you're both relaxed for open communication.  Oh yeah...classic things almost all non-ADHD spouses do...deep breathing, and talking to yourself.  Hope that helps!       

Nettie's picture

Another Me Too

"At this point, it seems that when I feel annoyed, I only have two choices.  I can either swallow my feelings, or I can say something."

I first thought I have no help because I get annoyed a lot also; however, I've been thinking about it, so I'll tell you what I TRY.

I've been married five years. If I tell people my DH and I have cultural differences, they ask if he's from another country, etc. No, he was just raised very differently from me, and even without ADHD, he may not ever have thought to, for example, turn his clothes right-side-out before putting them into the hamper ;)

He's also very logical and started asking me why he should do those things. So, I started asking myself if those things really do matter, are really happening, etc. Sometimes, I was doing things because my mother did them that way. Sometimes, I was going to a lot of trouble for things my family didn't even notice (seasonal tablecloths, for example) or things that had no scientific basis (my husband loves finding those).

Some seemingly unimportant things DO matter to a picky person like me (or as my mother says, "I'm not picky, I just have high standards"), for example, getting my coffee right - I have to limit the amount I drink and want a good cup. So, I fix it myself or sometimes give DH step-by-step instructions. If I do the later, I have to do it each time I ask. He doesn't take offense, and I accept I need to give him precise instructions each time.

I also know if it doesn't taste great that time, it will another time (so ease up), and I appreciate those times (yes!). I also delegate the job sometimes to a barista :)

Can you find some household help?

 

Nettie's picture

P.S.

Think positively. I just went into the guest bathroom and discovered seeds all over the bottom of the tub (DH probably shook out something there and left it). Instead of getting annoyed he left it or didn't shake it outside like I would have, I said to myself, "Great, now when I ask him to clear out the seeds, I can suggest cleaning the whole tub while he's there!" He's a good sport - he will do it if he has time right when I ask (and I leave the cleaning supplies close by so he doesn't get distracted going to get them).

I'm Not Picky, I Just Have High Standards

Hi Nettie,

I also have high standards.  :-) 

I like what you have to say about deciding if I am doing things because they really matter or just because I am in the habit of doing them a certain way.  My experience as a manager at work has helped me a lot in my marriage because as a manager I have had to learn that MY way of achieving a certain desired end isn't always the way someone else would do it.  My tendency is to micro manage but I have learned how to do less of that at work, and let others do things their way.  As long as the desired results are achieved, it doesn't really matter to me HOW they are achieved, of if they are achieved at the last minute, etc.

Part of what has happened in my marriage is that I have become a micro-manager.  Even though that is my "natural tendency" I don't like doing it.  I'd much rather the end results get achieved without my having to be involved in the HOW.  My problem is that experience has taught me that unless I remind my wife to start something, it often doesn't get done.  Unless I keep an eye on her and remind her to get back to task when she gets distracted, things she starts often don't get finished.  Or they don't get finished in the time we agreed.  etc. 

I am working letting go of some of my high standards when they don't really matter.  I am also learning to let go of some of my expectations of WHEN things get done, and in HOW they get done.  But sometimes I really do need (or even just want) something done by a certain time.  And often when I do, I decide to take responsibility of doing it, because my wife, despite her good intentions, will get derailed.  And I'd rather do it myself than be stressed that it won't get done, nag, struggle, and get angry when it in fact, does not get done and my wife gives me her excuse - usually something like "I really PLANNED to do it but then Mary called and then . . . "

Something that's happening now is that my wife is sometimes wanting to do some things I have taken responsibility for.  For example, yesterday morning, I told her I was planning to do the laundry that evening.  She used to do the laundry, but I "took over" because she never had time to do it when she planned to do it, or she would start it and it would take two days or more to finish two loads because she'd "forget" to put the clean clothes in the dryer, or she'd let them sit in the dryer fo a day or more and everything would come out very wrinkled, and then the clean clothes would sit in the basket for days, etc.

So anyway, yesterday morning she says to me "I'll do the laundry for you." Because she knew I had plans to go out for a couple of hours that night and juggling the laundry would have been a challenge, and she was planning to be home all night.  I said "That's OK, I'll do it.  I really want it done tonight."  She said, don't worry, I won't forget."  I said "That's OK, I can do it."  She said, "Don't worry, I'll take the clothes out of the washer right away and fold them as soon as they are dry so they don't get wrinkled.  I know that's important to you.  I know it's so important you took over doing the laundry and haven't let me do it since."  She also said - "I used to take pride in the laundry, and nobody ever had a problem with how I did it before you."  (When she did the laundry I had to iron my clothes every day but in the two or three months since I have been doing the laundry I haven't had to iron once.)

We talked about how I thought there was a chance she wouldn't get home in time to get it done, that she'd get engaged in something on the computer and not hear the buzzer when a load was done, etc., and she kept assuring me those things would not happen.  I said, it's been my experience that they do, even though you don't intend for them to happen.  Etc.  Etc.  Everything was said very lovingly.

Finally I said "OK, I would really appreciate it if you did the laundry and I will trust that you will."  I must admit though, I didn't have much confidence that she would follow through.

I got home at about 9pm and she had just put the first load in the washer.  Which meant the laundry would not be done until about an hour after our usual bedtime of 11.  My first thoughts were "Oh great, now the laundry won't get done tonight."  And "now I'm going to have to help in order to make sure it gets done and it's late and the last thing I want to do at this time of night is laundry."  What I SAID, though was "Hi Honey.  Hey, thanks for remembering to start the laundry."  She said something about how she had gotten home later than she had planed and so had only just started it.  I started chatting with her a bit and she said "OK.  I'm going to try this: 'I'd really like to talk with you but I'm distracted because I have to get this newsletter done.  Can we talk later?"

OMG!  That was the first time she had ever been so clear!  We had talked many times about how I am very able to say things like that to her but how she has difficulty clearly stating her needs.  I said "Honey!  That's great!  You just told me what you needed and you were totally clear about it.  That was perfect!  I'm so proud of you!!"  And I gave her two "thumbs up."

Then I went down to the basement to walk on the treadmill and I resisted the temptation to step in and manage (though when the buzzer went off I did ask "do you hear the buzzer?").  After walking on the treadmill, I came up to the family room to watch some TV while my wife was on the computer.  At around 11pm I said "I'm going to bed honey."  And SHE said "I'll come up and lie down with you a few minutes and then come down and finish the laundry."  Which she did, despite my fear that she'd fall asleep and not finish the laundry.

She never did come back to bed.  And when I went downstairs to get coffee, the laundry basket was sitting there with most of the clothes folded.  While I got coffee she went upstairs and when I got to the bedroom she was folding the rest of the clothes and putting them away.  I gave her a big hug and a kis and I again thanked her for remembering to do the laundry, and also for finishing it.  And then I went to take my shower.

So - it was a good night and a good morning.  No correction - it was great!  And I am looking forward to more of these kinds of nights and mornings.

arwen's picture

the back burner

Here's something that helps me a lot -- putting the problem "on the back burner".

If you're still annoyed, you probably do need to say something.  But maybe saying something *immediately* isn't a good idea.  If you say something immediate, you may not think through enough how to express it without fueling a fight.  Or even if you say it calmly, you may still be in a state of mind that would be too reactive to something your spouse might say.

But if you acknowledge your annoyance to yourself -- even write it down in a notebook or some such to bring up at a later time with your ADD spouse -- and *wait*, you have time to think about what you want to say, how you want to say it -- while still knowing that you are going to have an opportunity to express your feelings.

I do this frequently.  In addition it helps me put things in perspective.  Sometimes I realize that I was just in a bad mood.  Sometimes I realize the particular problem is not worth the battle.  Sometimes I realize that the problem is symbolic of something bigger that I really need to get across to my spouse, and having put it "on the back burner" to "simmer" a while helps me get my hands around what I really need to say.  (Of course, I don't want to wait so long that my spouse can't remember the incident when I do bring the problem up!)

I realize this can be a difficult habit to cultivate.   I've been a manager during part of my career, and I know it's easy to get used to dealing with problems quickly and head-on, and then bring that expectation home (I've done it!).  On the other hand, learning to deal with annoyance differently at home has helped me deal with situations at work with more finesse.

Hope this helps -- Good luck!

Again, You Give Good Advice

Awren,

This also makes a lot of sense to me.  You give some very good advice her and in response to other posts of mine.  Is there any way I can do a search that will bring up all your postings?  Clearly, you are a wise woman!

arwen's picture

no search on poster

Hoping, you are very kind -- my hope is that my experience can save somebody the (seemingly endless) griefs of trial and error that my husband and I went through for so many years (as this site and other resources were less available back when we were first dealing with my husband's ADD). 

Unfortunately there is no way I know of to search for a particular author's posts.  This has been requested by users (including myself) in the past, but it is not simple to add in at this stage, and George (the site administrator, Melissa's husband, who does this for free in his spare time) has not been able to provide this kind of tool to date.

Going forward, I will put a tag line on all my posts, so you can search for the tag line, but that won't help you find my previous posts.  For those, I will see if I can figure out some other way to finesse this problem.

 

"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be." Albus Dumbledore

search on poster

This is something relatively easy to do, but Melissa has been hesitant to add the feature, as we have had a number of instances in which our participants have asked us to remove their posts, over fears that their spouses would be able to identify them and their posts (we are and continue to be very protective of our users' privacy).  However, if enough believe the benefits outway the risks, we can enable "search" by user, have a list of all users and all of their associated content, have a list of top contributers with links to their posts and comments, or any number of ways in which content can be found.

One of the easiest (this is what I use as an administrator) is to enable the a hotlink on the user's username in the "submitted by" which takes you to a page listing all posts and comments of that user.  I need to make sure none of the other profile information appear.  I have a full day of out-of-the-house family activities today, but will try to get to it tomorrow.

Once I expose this "profile" page, we can also provide additional public "profile" information (e.g., M/F, ADHD/nonADHD) that users could add if they wished.

Nettie's picture

Pros and Cons of Search by User

Pro: one can get an idea of another user's history, etc., by reading older posts.

Con: if one talks too much, like I do, one can't hope for their comment(s) to melt into the abyss. I wish we had the option to delete our own posts; however, I guess not having the option could negatively reinforce self control, so maybe it's a good thing.

 

arwen's picture

privacy is more important

My husband already knows about this site and reads my posts -- so I don't have a need for the kind of privacy that Melissa is concerned about.  But I can easily imagine that others could!  (I just have to imagine myself using this site if it had existed 10 years ago.)  This privacy, in my opinion, is much more important than the ease of searching by poster -- I'm afraid I never thought about this aspect of the problem before, but now I feel strongly that Melissa is right to be concerned.

As I've noted in another post, I intend to append a tag line to my future posts to provide a way to search for my posts.  Maybe we could use a similar strategy to provide an *option* that could be used in place of search-by-poster.  If the profile could be amended to allow a tagline option for each registered poster, any poster who would like to allow others to search for his/her posts could put a phrase (hopefully as unique as possible) in the tagline field of the profile, and then readers could search on the tagline.  Those who wanted to retain privacy would not implement the tagline option.  The profile instructions would need to identify this inherent privacy issue in the tagline section.

I don't know enough about site administration to know if this is workable, or whether there might be some other way to provide some other optional way to search "by poster".   But I would say that if there's no way to make searching "by poster" optional,  we should leave things the way they have been.


"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore

Do You Also Suggest This Strategy When My Feelings Get Hurt?

Hi Arwen,

I definitely understand that this strategy would be a good one when I am annoyed at something my wife does or doesn't do.  I wonder if it would also work when she does something that hurts my feelings in some way.  For example, the other night I was talking about a situation where I work that is particularly troubling, and when I paused to give her a chance to say something, instead of responding to what I was saying, she said something on an entirely different subject.  I felt like it meant she wasn't listening, or that she didn't care about what I was saying, which is a real hot button of mine.  I feel invisable when she does that.  This is a common occurance.  I know that it is related to her ADD, and most times I can just overlook it.  But sometimes I feel like I need her to know that she does this and that it hurts when she does.

So my question is - does it make better sense to point it out when it happens, or is it better to wait and say something when I am not in the middle of it?  I'm thinking that if i point it out later it might be harder for her to remember the actual situation.  And while I'd probably be better able not to be too reactive to what she might say in response, my guess is she would be reactive whether I said it in the moment or sometime later.

arwen's picture

sensitivity

I hope you will forgive me, I am not going to answer the question you asked, because I don't really have any particular sense of whether the "back burner" approach would help in this situation or not.  I'm not easily hurt by my husband's behaviors for the most part, and the few times I have been, I haven't handled them in any consistent way or with particular success. 

Instead I am going to suggest something that you may or may not find helpful.    You said that the other night, you spoke to her about a troubling situation at work and  when you "paused to give her a chance to say something", she launched into another topic.  May I suggest that simply pausing to give her a chance to address your problem is probably way too subtle a cue for her to pick up on the fact that you wanted her to say something about your situation?  I would recommend that if you are looking for something from her, tell her what it is.  It would probably be more useful to ask her a direct question, e.g. "what do you think I should do?" or "I'm not sure what this means, what do you think about it?"  By being subtle and not asking directly, you are effectively setting your wife up for failure.

One thing that I have noticed about your posts is that you seem very sensitive, in every sense of the word.  I don't say this as either criticism or praise, just as an observation of a characteristic.  Most people with ADD are typically not nearly as sensitive.  This dichotomy definitely exists in my own marriage -- I am far more visually/aurally/tactilely/etc. perceptive than my husband, I am more conscious and aware of situations, and I can identify my husband's true feelings more frequently than he can himself (as he almost invariably discovers at some later point), whereas he can never figure out mine.  To him, my ability to understand people and situations is uncanny, miraculous.   There's simply no point in my asking him to be more sensitive about me -- even with all the will in the world, he can't do it.  You may need to accept that the same may be true of your wife.

 

"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore

You Are Probably Right

Asking my wife for a response would certainly get her to say something in the moment.  My first reaction to that, though, is "Oh God, that would make conversations so much more WORK!"  I know the work would be worth it.  But I am such an introvert, that conversations are already "work" for me.  When I have to work to get the other person to talk - in ths case - to stay on topic, show empathy, etc., it is so draining for me.  At the same time, I know it is work for my wife to converse in the way I need her to.  Sigh . . .

I think the bigger problem, though, is in getting the kind of response I need.  What I need at those times is not just a response, but an empathic response.  Asking for a response and getting something not empathic is likely to feel just as bad to me.  So I feel like I would also have to teach my wife empathic listening, and in the moment, when empathic listening is what I need, the last thing I want to be doing is teaching it.   So I suppose I would first have to teach my wife empathic listening when we are not in the middle of a conversation.  I don't know if I want to be in the position of teaching my wife how to communicate.  I don't know if I am even able to teach it.  Nor do I know if my wife would even agree to me teaching her.  I imagine her response would be something like "So now you are saying I don't even know how to talk."

arwen's picture

you get it

Hoping, I'm impressed by your grasp of the situation.  Your response is dead on.  Although my husband has some ability to respond empathically at times, he has lacked other communication skills which we have had to work on together.  And you are right, it was a lot of work.  On the other hand, from my point of view anyway, the alternatives were even less palatable.

We approached our issues a little differently than what you outline as a hypothetical handling of your situation, though -- we basically tackled them as joint problems in unmet needs -- the underlying assumption being that we both wanted to try to meet the other's needs if we could.  So there wasn't so much *teaching* as *explaining*.  I never set out to *teach* my husband how to listen more carefully, or express himself more clearly -- instead I would *explain* with examples from our actual recent history that if he made the effort to focus on what I was saying, we'd spend a whole lot less time straightening out miscommunications (which he finds really frustrating to do), and let him figure out just how he could best accomplish that -- or *explain* why his excessive use of pronouns made it impossible to understand his meaning at times.

The subject of empathic listening would be a good one to tackle in a joint counseling session with a professional, I would think, and then perhaps the counselor could continue working on it with your wife alone.  This strategy worked pretty well for my husband and me with the knottiest of our communication problems.  That would take you out of the "teaching" business with reasonable hope for eventual improvement.

I really do feel for you -- you're in a very tough place right now.  In effect, the task in front of you is to reframe or restructure a large part of your marital dynamic -- a tall order.  Many times I felt overwhelmed while my husband and I went through this, and so did he.  There were times we both felt like giving up.  But I have a really hard time giving up on something when I can see the potential for what I'm trying to accomplish is really there and there seems to be a real hope for success if I just keep holding on and plugging away.  Even at the times when I'd say to myself, " That's it, I'm through, I can't do this anymore", I'd find myself looking at how much of my life I'd already invested and ask myself if I really *couldn't* do it anymore or was I rather really frustrated and really not *wanting* to do it anymore.  And because we *did* make progress, our relationship *did* get better (albeit slowly and very much three steps forward and two back), I just didn't want to quit on it and steeled myself to carry on.

Hang in there, you are on the right track!  It takes time, and I know how hard it is to be patient and bear the sometimes glacial pace of positive change.  Trust me, you can be stronger than you realize.  Good luck!!!

 

"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore

Not exactly the best way of coping,

but it's what's working for me at the moment. 

Whenever I feel the irritation getting the better of me, I remind myself that in some ways my fiancée is a lot like my three year old son or an untrained puppy. There are just certain things he doesn't understand or realize are a big deal and it's up to me to help him learn/understand those things and why.  I couldn't justify getting angry with my son or a puppy for doing things he doesn't understand that he shouldn't do or not doing things that he should do and even though I expect my fiancée to know better, I need to accept that he just doesn't.

Unfortunately, he complains that I occasionally talk to him like he's a toddler and I have to bite my tongue to point out that sometimes I feel like he is one!