Emotional Wellness
Mary Symmes is the founder of Self Investment Strategies and a life coach devoted to the empowerment of working women. Mary is also a clinical social worker in Alexandria, Va. Visit her Web site at SelfInvestmentStrategies.com

Husband Constantly Complains

Question: My husband does all of the things women complain men never do...like laundry, daycare pick-up and drop-off, yard work, dishes, etc. But he's also in a constant state of exasperation about everything and its getting done. I don't know anymore what's going to set him off and how ridiculous his criticisms will be. Last night he was irritated because lights were on in the house and that decreased the ability of the air conditioning to cool. I'm pretty much a nervous wreck trying to create peace in the family and keep my 3 and 5 year old happy. How do I ask for what I need when I don't feel entitled to ask for anything for myself? Lisa

Answer: Your husband does sound a bit irrational, and it sounds like your relationship is really suffering. His behavior is quite compulsive. A high degree of compulsivity usually indicates a high level of anxiety and sometimes anger, as you are seeing with him. It is very difficult to live with someone like that, especially when you have young children, who makes messes as a way of life.

Has his behavior or mood gotten worse lately? Does he drink a lot or do drugs? Has he had a setback at work or an emotional loss? Are you two having financial problems? Often other life stressors will exacerbate pre-existing anxiety or obsessive-compulsive behavior.

I wish I could offer you a solution through this medium, but I think you really need to go to a good therapist and talk the situation over. The tension level in the household sounds very high, and you don't want your children to either copy his behavior or to suffer from it, not to mention your unmet needs.

Your family doctor, minister or rabbi, or a local hospital can give you some referrals. I suggest that you ask him to come with you to an appointment. If he refuses, GO YOURSELF! You can do a lot of work on a relationship without both parties being in the room. You will find that you feel less overwhelmed, sad, and angry if you have someone understanding to talk to. This situation will not get better on its own. Take action now, and know that in 6 months things will be better for you.

You have my best wishes. Mary Symmes

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    The above is for general information only and is not intended to substitute for professional mental health treatment. Individuals should consult licensed professionals as needed.