Dear Carolyn, My wife and I often do groceries together. Predictably, my wife will identify something from my few items and ask me to put it back on the shelf. It reminds me of a mother who told a child to put back lucky charms. Still, she may have a few similar items.
I usually show some resistance, but I avoid the arguments in store. These episodes have had detrimental consequences for me.
I have expressed my feelings to my wife at the moment and during the therapy. These little problems have become a metaphor for what I consider to be myself and my role.
I've recently been disappointed to see this behavior continue. I can explain again to my wife that this behavior humiliates me and makes me want to avoid shopping together. I am sure, however, that she will accuse me of being too sensitive and describe her as a monster, and nothing will change.
Should I simply opt out of shared shopping excursions? Is "giving up" a healthy strategy? I'll need to explain why I do not accompany him anymore.
Disappointed: A few points before arriving at the grocery aisle:
According to your advice, this is a bigger problem, which goes well beyond the encroachment on your inalienable right to take a box of Ho Hos. Yes?
The fact that she always corrects you after you say that your text about feeling down is that she believes (always) that she has the right to tell you what to do, and will continue to do so.
So, you are married to a person who controls and who apparently would prefer to gas you – "she will blame me for being too sensitive" – rather than challenging her own behavior.
That's the problem in your marriage. Because there is never bad weather for a 45-year-old reference film, I will let "The Exorcist" speak: "There is only one".
You can just stop shopping with her, yes, and tell her why. But that only spares you driving rage and leaves the problem intact.
In fact, everything that concerns purchases will be a marginal remedy, unless you apply it throughout your relationship, both in terms of principle and self-preservation.
The answer that attacks the problem itself is to refuse to be controlled. Calmly, firmly and without fear of a "fight in store" because she knows that you fear that and relies on her to silence you.
Of course, change your phrasing to reflect the situation – but when you are told to return an article, a cold and calm word "I'm not your child" will suffice. Items stay in the cart.
If she reacts to this situation by making a scene (expect her), leave her calmly and promptly, as far as possible, and calmly end up buying food.
Again: discreetly refuse to be controlled. Make it your plan to find words and actions in the heat of the moment that preserve the right to self-determination of any competent adult. Bring this plan with you to the store, to the kitchen table, in the car, on vacation. Apply it with a two-part strategy: hold firm and then, if necessary, refuse to act in his scene.
Quietly refuse to be controlled.
It's your beginning. The solo therapy is as follows. That's how you navigate wherever your wedding goes.
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