My wife is irrational… or am I? ;)


I want to do a better job acknowledging my faults with love and compassion in situations where I am feeling attacked by my wife and my logical brain isn’t finding truth in the repeated accusation(s).

Sometimes I start out feeling genuinely bad. I usually can see things I could have done better, but my list of “things I could do better” is very different and usually much shorter than the list my wife has for “what you should have done better”. When the specificity of her “accusations” isn’t resonating with me, it feels like accepting the accusation “as-is” and just apologizing would be inauthentic and untrue.

Then I convince myself that my wife won’t stop “jabbing” me until I see the situation exactly the way she does, I feel frustration and start blaming her for being immature and manipulative. It doesn’t feel good to me, and she naturally feels my condescending tone and labels what I’m doing as defensiveness.

C: Wife repeats words about what I’ve done
T: This is not how it happened, but she isn’t going to back down until I come groveling to her on this issue and see it the way she does. She is being irrational, and I’m stuck until she decides to change.
F: Manipulated, frustrated and hopeless
A: Try to explain my view. Become increasingly agitated. I hold back any acknowledgment. Close down and distance myself from her.
R: I feel confirmed in my view that my wife is being irrational. I’m being irrational but won’t admit it.

The model above seems like 3 separate issues:

C: Wife says words about what I’ve done
T: This is not how it happened. If I apologize, it won’t be sincere and I’d feel like I’m lying.
F: Defensive
A: Try to explain my view.
R: I don’t show empathy

C: Wife says words about what I’ve done
T: My wife is trying to force me to grovel and won’t back down until I do. She learned this from her family and it isn’t healthy. Plus, she knows better than to blame me for how she feels.
F: Annoyed and frustrated
A: Make snarky comments and try to coach her
R: Blaming my wife for my frustration

C: Wife says words about what I’ve done
T: Her accusations are all based on her interpretation of reality. She’s being irrational. This conversation is useless until she stops being irrational.
F: Hopeless
A: Close down and disconnect
R: I’m being irrational and not taking ownership for my own thinking, but won’t admit it.

I’ve heard you talk about diffusing situations like this by acknowledging the person and taking ownership for shreds of truth in the accusation. What new thoughts can I choose when my brain is trying to tell me the the accusations are wrong, and I’m judging my wife as being in emotional childhood?

Also, what tools do you have for keeping calm and present to these thoughts in the “heat” of the moment?

I want to feel love, but what I’m doing now doesn’t feel loving or kind.