Life Advice



Ask Amy: Husband's snide statements bewilder spouse

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My husband and I have been married for 11 years. Throughout the duration of our marriage, he constantly makes snide remarks, such as, "Someone around here never wants to be responsible for her choices," or he will remark on how I am such a social butterfly that I know each person's name on our street, and that this is not normal behavior.

Honestly, I don't know what he is referencing with the "personal accountability" remarks, but I find it odd that it isn't somehow OK to know your neighbors.

Amy, is my husband jealous, or is he a narcissist?

-- Unsure

Dear Unsure: I am not able to use my amateur skills to diagnose a person, based on a couple of reported comments.

So, while I don't know what your husband IS, I do know how he acts -- like an angry, passive-aggressive spouse who doesn't quite have the capacity (or courage) to say what is really on his mind.


You two seem locked into an extreme version of the challenge all couples face, which is the need to communicate lovingly and respectfully -- even when you're confused, uncomprehending, or angry.

A shorthand version of how to communicate is for each partner to use "I statements" to express their feelings. So, instead of making a statement starting with "Someone around here..." your husband would be brave enough to say, "I feel angry (or bad, sad, or confused) when you don't take responsibility for your choices." And instead of you saying, "You're jealous (or a narcissist)," you would say, "I feel hurt when you criticize me for being friendly to our neighbors."

He is quite obviously lashing out at you, and you should assume that there are probably many different topics layered beneath the rude digs or cutting asides he is leveling at you. You should ask him: "I'm trying to figure out what you are really trying to say to me -- what you really want to know about me." You two would obviously benefit from counseling to work on your communication, and -- even though you both may be embittered, learning to talk about things will help both of you to clarify your emotions and your feelings toward each other.

You might benefit from reading Harriet Lerner's classic book on communicating: "The Dance of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You're Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate" (2002, William Morrow).


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