Oddly enough, you can inoculate yourselves by looking at situations ahead of time so that when they happen, you are less likely to have an over-reaction. This is a composite of several couples.
Dear Couples Counselor:
My wife said she was beginning dinner at 5:45 in order to eat by 6:30 pm. 6 pm rolls around and I start looking in the fridge. My wife thinks that I am starting dinner and goes outside and starts talking to the neighbor. I was not starting dinner, but I now have to because, if we want to eat by 6:30, we have to start. She comes in at 6:15 asking if she can help.
I was livid with her. I do not trust her words. I do not trust that she will do what she has said she will do. I am angry that I believed her again. How could I be that dumb?
I looked out the front window to see her chatting with the neighbor, left again to pick up the slack. I clean up after her and feel like she is another of my children.
She does not pick up after herself on a regular basis and just assumes I will. When I refuse to pick up, she does not even notice and she does not clean it up until it is disgustingly dirty. Then she gets angry at me for cleaning and doing “her job.”
She won’t let me schedule chores for her and the boys (and me, of course) because that is not “spontaneous.” She wants to just let it flow. I take that as code that she does not want to be accountable.
Anyway, if I say that it is 5:45 and dinner has not started, I feel like I am being a jerk. If I go out and interrupt her with the neighbor, that is worse. If I do not start dinner, that is being passive aggressive. I cannot do the right thing in this situation because there is no right thing. I prepare dinner, resentful as all get out.
She then gets mad at ME when I bring it up to her. I am very gentle, slow start up in bringing this to her attention and she gets mad at ME. So, I am not allowed to be angry or resentful. I get blamed for being rigid with dinner times and she takes the focus off herself, or so she thinks.
What is worse is that I used to come home for dinner with the family, a big value growing up. I have stopped doing that because there were enough times that she was not home when I got home and forgot to tell me or didn’t have food ready. There were tons of times there was food, though.
Do I have the right to complain? It was inconsistent enough that I stopped coming home for dinner and made up some lame excuse.
Confronting her on it has not worked and I am not sure I am being reasonable. But I have changed my behavior yet again to accommodate her and I do not like it.