Q&A with Geoff: I'm a Horrible Wife

q&a with geoff Mar 20, 2024


It seems that I am forever doing something to irritate or offend my husband, and I guess I need to learn to better control myself so that I don’t come across in such a rude, insensitive, belittling, controlling, and just plain offensive way. 

I seem to always be doing things wrong. If I mention to him that I’m bothered by something, he helps me see that the way I say things is what’s causing me problems. He says he wouldn’t do whatever it is that bothered me if I weren’t so rude and insensitive to him. So I know now that whatever is bothering me is, at the root of it all, my fault, and I rarely talk about anything that bothers me. Instead, I try to think of ways I can be less of a horrible wife. It’s amazing to me that my husband continues to put up with me.

Can you suggest some techniques for me to learn so that I communicate in a less offensive manner? I need to change my behavior so that I am not offending or irritating my husband so much. Where should I start? I really do love my husband and I don’t want to be such a hardship to him.


First, you’re not a horrible wife. I’m not sure where that label originated, but please know that anyone who is willing to improve his or her marriage is hardly “horrible.” In fact, your willingness to look at your own behaviors is the only thing that will make things better. You are a wife who makes mistakes. You also have a husband who makes mistakes. Neither of you is a horrible person. You’re two fellow travelers struggling to get things right in your marriage.

The way you portray your husband’s reaction to you is cause for concern. Granted, I’m only getting your view of the situation, so I’m cautious in proceeding. However, the unilateral conclusion from both of you that you are the source of all marriage woes doesn’t seem accurate to me. I hope he’s also open to looking at how he might be feeding this unhealthy interactional pattern. If he’s not willing to see his influence on the situation, please hold in mind that your marriage struggles are more complex than the simplistic and one-sided explanation of you being a bad communicator.

No doubt you both have your struggles in the marriage. You might actually be a meddling parent who micromanages every interaction your husband has with the children. Chances are, he might be a blamer who believes he’s never wrong. I’m certain you both do things that drive each other crazy. Every marriage, to one degree or another, has dynamics that are hard for each partner. I think you’ll make more progress as a couple when both of you accept responsibility for the impact you’re each having on the relationship.

If every disappointing interaction truly ends up with you carrying the blame, no amount of feedback about your communication style is going to improve things. I’m not suggesting you have nothing to improve. We all have things to improve. My concern is that you and your husband have both convinced yourselves that the real problem is you.

Temper tantrums are not cute even in children; they are despicable in adults, especially adults who are supposed to love each other. We are too easily provoked; we are too inclined to think that our partner meant to hurt us; and in a defensive or jealous response we too often rejoice when we see them make a mistake and find them at fault. Let’s show some discipline on this one. Act a little more maturely. Bite your tongue if you have to. 

It’s good practice for you, or any spouse, for that matter, to take an honest look at the ways you impact the relationship.

I hope you’ll continue to ask such honest and heartfelt questions. My concern is that you appear to be the only one in your marriage asking those questions.

Ask your husband if he’s open to a discussion about how you both get stuck in your attempts to communicate with one another. If your husband can’t see the two-way interactional patterns that keep both of you stuck, your marriage can’t move forward.

If you still find yourselves stuck after such a discussion, it’s a good idea to get some help from a marriage counselor who can help you both understand how to heal these unhealthy patterns. 

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