As I wrote my Happy Wife, Happy Life? articles here and over on The Generous Husband, I thought about people I’ve seen who use their unhappiness as a tool to get what they want in life. The classic example is the spoiled girl who knows she can get almost anything out of daddy by pouting or throwing a fit. Unfortunately some of those little girls don’t outgrow the behaviour (especially if it worked) and do the same in marriage.
Before anyone yells, yes I see husbands who do the same thing. I think men are usually less obvious, doing it in a more passive aggressive way. If anything, this makes it more difficult to address because the guy will just deny it.
The solution for this is for both spouses to accept the truth each is responsible for their own feelings. Our spouse can help us in the direction we choose, but they can do little to make us feel good when we choose to feel bad. The trap of using unhappiness to get our way is we have to stay unhappy to remain in control. Doesn’t sound like a fun life to me!
If you think you’ve been guilty of this, choose to change. Take responsibility for your own feelings and find other ways to share what you want and get what you need from your husband.
If you think your husband is doing this, tell yourself repeatedly he is responsible for his feelings, and refuse to play the game. Learn to do what is reasonable whether he is being reasonable or not. Sharing how you feel you are responsible for how you feel, and telling him how you are taking ownership of your own feelings is a good way to discuss the issue without pushing him into a corner.
~ Paul – I’m XY, and my wife complements but does not create my happiness.