Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Carolyn: My husband is angry at me for not treating him with respect. But as I really work on this, I am starting to realize he has a very skewed version of respect. Example: We were in a restaurant. He stepped out of the booth to speak to one of our boys. As he was speaking, a waitress tried to pass behind him and said, "Excuse me." Husband didn't hear her, so I told him, "Someone is trying to get past you."
He then yelled at me for interrupting him when he's dealing with a kiddo, and used this as an example of how I'm not changing my ways in showing him respect.
It had never crossed my mind that telling him he was blocking the aisle was not respectful. I'm not sure this was a matter of respect. Yet he is now using this as an example of how I'm not changing my ways and justifying his anger against me.
His yelling at you like this, for the sole crime of being your idea of helpful instead of his, is verbal abuse.
It is not your responsibility to be exactly who he wants you to be. Your responsibility is to be yourself, honestly, and his is to be himself. You both have the right to ask for judicious changes and the right to stay or go once you see how the other person responds. That's it. You don't have the right to badger someone to change. Boundaries 101.
Whether someone "should" be willing or able to change or compromise is irrelevant; it's whether they do or don't change and whether you can or can't embrace the result.
Please talk to a good, reputable therapist - alone. To find one, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline to ask for a local referral: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Re: Anonymous: Later, when he's calmer, she could ask her husband how he would like her to handle it the next time he is blocking a waitress with a tray. His answer might tell her everything she needs to know.
My guess is he isn't feeling respected at work but can't tell off his boss for fear of losing his job, so he takes it out on his wife. He might also blame his wife and children for feeling stuck.
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