I'm too curt, he's too sensitive - what can we do?
August 12, 2013 3:24 PM Subscribe
My partner and I have been together for 8 years and we keep revisiting the same problem. I am a surgeon and my workplace requires me to be fast, accurate, and to make quick decisions. I value efficiency in my personal life too, but this can cause me to be curt and even come off as mean sometimes. And I happened to fall in love with a guy who is a hypersensitive perfectionist. Details inside.
posted by anonymous to human relations (29 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Sometimes I can say things that, in my mind, are suggestions on how to approach a problem but in his mind sound like "you're doing this wrong and my way is the only way," even though I've made an effort in the past year to really compromise, listen to him, and empathize with his positions. My tone is often clipped, curt, and fast and this doesn't help. He takes this personally and responds offensively and with a sharp tone, which then causes my blood to percolate a little and we can't just diffuse the situation before feelings get hurt. We never yell and really never "fight," but things that should be tiny problems (whether or not to lock the deadbolt, how to best time the preparation of mushrooms) blow up into Really Big Deals.
He knows he is sensitive and he can't really change that. But he thinks that this is mostly my fault and has said, "I know you love me, but I want to hear that in your words - in day-to-day conversation. You don't always *sound* like you love me."
So. What do I do? We have talked and talked and talked (we're good at analyzing the relationship and working on it) and we've even talked about therapy (although we don't know where to go in our conservative community that would be good for a gay couple). Does anyone have books, exercises, or similar experiences to share that could help out?