Why does my wife zing me all the time? How should I react? Is there a way to stop it? Am I being paranoid?
posted by bovious to human relations (102 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
My brother told me a few years ago he wasn't looking forward to hanging out with my wife & me any more, after her constant "zinging" of me. I started paying more attention and it seems he has a point.
Take last night, for example. Two examples in one evening, and illustrative of the casualness and the pettiness of this thing that happens. Every single day of our lives together is filled with this:
At dinner, my 11-year-old daughter was eating a clementine I'd brought from the store. I mentioned that I was surprised the clementines were still good, as they were over a week old. My daughter said a few had gone bad but most of them were still fine. My wife said, "They're tangerines." I said, "Oh, did you bring some tangerines home?" She said, "No, those were tangerines you brought home." I said, "Then why did it say 'clementines' on the bag?" She said, "I thought clementines only came in wooden boxes." I didn't say anything else.
After dinner I was going to walk the dogs. I said to my wife, in a friendly tone, "Would you feel like making me some of that peach cobbler while I'm gone?" She said, "Do you want me to?" I said, again in a friendly tone, "Yes! That would be great!" She said, "Then why don't you just ask me to?" I said, "Never mind. I guess I can't open my mouth without putting my foot in. I thought I was being friendly."
She's not the type of person to be put off normally by an indirect request, I should perhaps point out. In fact, her mode of communication is so far off the charts, direct-communication wise, that it once took her an entire 1-hour marital counseling session to ask me a direct question. Counselor: "Ask Bovious to pass you the kleenex." W: "Bovious, I want the kleenex." C: "No, ask him." W: "Bovious, hand me the kleenex." C: "Say, 'Bovious, would you please pass me the kleenex?'" W: "Bovious, KLEENEX."
So maybe my always being wrong is a way of communicating...something?
She once said, in a counseling session some years ago, something that I believe goes to what's going on here, but the dynamic is so strange that I can't begin to unwind it. What she said, in response to why she was being difficult, was, that she was trying to "put Bovious in his place." She wouldn't explain it and I haven't been able to get her to discuss it.
Another time, our counselor asked about her father. My wife (actualy, then-fiancee) hesitated. The counselor said, "Is he kind of a bumbler?" My wife started SOBBING and said yes.
I am a programmer / analyst who started at a major organization as a telephone salesperson and worked my way up to a well-respected PA in the IT department; my current job is a well-paid PA. I've supported our family financially since we started out together.
Anyway, I have a variety of responses to this situation.
Sometimes I might say, "Why do I always have to be wrong? Even if I'm wrong, which I wasn't this time, still, why is that the only thing you want to talk about?"
Most of the time I just ignore it but I'm hurting.
Other times, it's "Zing!"
Other times, it's, "I guess you got me. I was wrong. Again."
She has no response other than to say, comically given the circumstances, "I don't always say you're wrong."
Well, not always. Most of the time, though. Enough of the time that outsiders are noticing it. Enough of the time that I hesitate to talk to you in front of outsiders or even when we're alone.
I'm so tired of this dynamic. She gets a kind of far-away look in her eye that I imagine to be her riding the glorious wave of my wrongness.
It's to the point now where I'm waiting for it whenever I open my mouth around her, an occurrence which is becoming rarer and rarer. Maybe I'm paranoid now. It's insane.
I've learned to be very careful and circumspect when I want her to know about a problem. For instance, our dishwasher has a hole in the silverware basket. This weekend I found that forks had been placed so as to fall through this hole, which blocks the water arms from spinning. I said, "Maybe you forgot, we have to avoid this hole in the basket." She started yelling at me, "I DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT IT!" I calmly said, "Oh, ok, maybe you didn't hear me when I mentioned it and showed it to you last week. It's ok if you forgot, I was just reminding you." "YOU DIDN'T SHOW ME!" "Ok."
She *HAS* to be right. I *HAVE* to be wrong. We can't BOTH be right.
Have any of you broken through this kind of situation with your family and sanity intact?