He really butchered that joke.
January 16, 2009 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Am I oversensitive?

This morning, I thought I would tell my husband a humorous story that was told at my uncle's funeral. My uncle killed himself six months ago, and it was a very sad time for me and my family.

So, I told the humourous story, and when I was finished, he said, "Well, you sure butchered that story." I guess I gave him shocked/angry look, and he followed up with, "No offense."

I was really hurt by this. I suppose I was sharing the story not just in the way one would pass on a joke, but because it was my uncle's story, and I am still grieving his death, and I just felt like...sharing, and maybe having a laugh at the story together -- not becoming the butt of the joke myself. I got quite upset, to which my husband responded that he was only joking, and that he makes jokes like this all the time (i.e., saying something totally inappropriate and otherwise offensive at key moments, but with a delivery that indicates he's only joking. I guess I missed his "delivery" this time, because he sounded like he was serious.)

I was still quite upset. I understand the kind of joking he's referring to, and I do normally undersand when he does it, and I guess I find it funny in most situations. But in this situation? When someone is telling you a story from a funeral of a loved one who recently committed suicide? Is that really an okay time to decide, "I'm going to do that boneheaded insensitive joke thing I do" ?

I have to admit, I started crying. I told him it was a jerky thing to say. He told me that I also tell insensitive jokes, like sometimes I tell him to shut up sarcastically, and that it might hurt his feelings but he never overreacts to it.

To which I replied, "Okay we can't talk about this anymore. Not only did you hurt my feelings, now you've pissed me off." And I went out of the room to cool down for a while.

What I don't understand is, truly, am I being oversensitive? If he has a history of making such jokes, to which I normally respond well, does that mean I am now prohibite from being offended by them at truly sensitive moments?

In my opinion, he should apologize to me and stop trying to justify it as a joke. But I don't know if I'm being unreasonable or not. (For the record, he has said stuff along the lines of, "If I knew it would hurt you, I never would have said it" and "Well, I'm sorry." Still, I feel either the apologies were not sincere, or they were inadequate for the offense caused. They were more like, "Well I'm sorry to have offended you" than "It was the wrong thing to say, and I'm sorry.")
posted by peggynature to Human Relations (52 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
He miscalculated the appropriateness of the response considering the weight of the event. So, no, you're not being oversensitive, he was being insensitive.

It's a shame he feels the need to defend his "joke" so vehemently, particularly considering the situation.
posted by batmonkey at 10:34 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good lord, no! You're not being oversensitive. You're probably more sensitive than usual due to the circumstances, but that's fine. You've probably reacted with a thicker skin to similar comments from him in the past, and so he was surprised by your reaction (but, again, given the circumstances, he should have spoken to you with more sensitivity). It sounds like his excuses and half-apologies came from embarrassment and defensiveness--doesn't make them any less jerky.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:36 AM on January 16, 2009


You have a right to be hurt, but your still-raw feelings bubbled to the surface via tears and anger, which freaked him out. You're more upset over the general situation--making a delicate joke about suicide, being told the delivery was bungled--and he's wondering what in the hell has gotten into you. You admit you normally respond positively to his sense of humor. The funeral was 6 months ago, which isn't that long but it still wasn't yesterday. Now he feels defensive and is over-rationalizing his POV so he doesn't have to deal with the unexpected, unintended guilt of making you cry when he meant to make you laugh. Suck it up and realize that it was a misunderstanding exacerbated by some bad timing.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:38 AM on January 16, 2009


When someone is telling you a story from a funeral of a loved one who recently committed suicide?

You said it was a humorous story, so he was probably trying to join in on humor with you. Stop trying to turn this into some major fight/point etc., and painting the husband as some sort of fiend. You may be upset and hurt, but if you try communicate via humor you can't hold it against people for responding with humor, especially when they have a history of it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:38 AM on January 16, 2009


Response by poster: Brandon: I didn't paint my husband as a fiend. I love my husband, and he is a good guy. Maybe you're oversensitive.
posted by peggynature at 10:39 AM on January 16, 2009


Yes. You are being oversensitive.
posted by stubby phillips at 10:39 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm very sorry about your uncle. :(

Unfortunately, I kinda think you actually are being too sensitive and that you overreacted. The fact that the funny story came from your uncle's funeral is kinda moot - you said yourself you were trying to have a laugh with him, lighten the mood,whatever. So when he responded with a joke in return about your delivery... well, to act scandalized and say "how dare you joke with me about a funny story I was telling that I heard at my uncle's funeral?" is a little much. Would you have reacted as strongly if you had heard the story from, say, someone at work? Then tone was set when you started that it was joke time, if you know what I mean. Also, you said yourself that he frequently says those kinds of things and that you usually find them funny.... suddenly declaring it a 'jerky thing to do', when most/every other time he has said something similar you have enjoyed it... well, if I were him I would be a little defensive as well.

So yeah, I would definitely say you are being overly sensitive, probably because you are still upset over the death.
posted by gwenlister at 10:40 AM on January 16, 2009


Brandon: I didn't paint my husband as a fiend. I love my husband, and he is a good guy. Maybe you're oversensitive.

I was on the fence before, but yes, you are being oversensitive. Seriously.
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:41 AM on January 16, 2009 [21 favorites]


Yeah, I think you're being oversensitive. He said he's sorry and he didn't intend to hurt your feelings. You've reacted positively to similar jokes in the past, so he was acting on some precedent. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with joking about a dead person or joking about a person joking about a dead person; the process of grief varies from person to person and from day to day, so it's hard to expect that your husband should have known you would be offended. Anyway, now he knows.

Also what zoomorphic said.
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:42 AM on January 16, 2009


It sounds to me like you're overreacting.

If you had been telling a serious, grim story about the funeral of a loved one, and he made a joke about it out of the blue, that'd be one thing. But you were telling a "humorous" story, which to me at least sets the expectation that this was a lighthearted conversation where a joking response wouldn't be totally unreasonable.

There may be more nuance going on than is visible in your description, but based on what you've described I think this was more of a mutual misunderstanding than a Bad husband! Bad! moment.

does that mean I am now prohibited from being offended by them at truly sensitive moments?

Only if it's clear to all parties that it is in fact a "truly sensitive moment," which may not have been the case this time around.
posted by ook at 10:44 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


One more for oversensitive.
posted by Jezztek at 10:45 AM on January 16, 2009


I really don't think you were being oversensitive. It was a shitty thing to say to you given the circumstances. I would say to him exactly what you said to us: that you normally appreciate his sarcastic sense of humor, but it was inappropriate this time around with all things considered. Just because you find something funny in one situation, doesn't mean it's funny in ALL situations.

(And, for what it's worth, to me it doesn't sound like you were trying to start a fight, and you did not come off as if you were trying to paint your husband as a fiend.)
posted by anthropoid at 10:46 AM on January 16, 2009


Best answer: It's neither, and both.

You over-reacted, but for a reason. He wasn't rude, but picked a bad time to take the piss. Next time you could say: "Owch. Man, I don't know why but that really hurt my feelings." If he isn't being a defensive prick then he'll just respond with an apology.

Sometimes conversations just go wrong, it's not anyone's fault. Try to get past the fault without making some elaborate rule-change in your relationship. It was a bad joke combined with a thin skin in a particular situation.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:48 AM on January 16, 2009 [14 favorites]


There is no "oversensitive". There is only your feelings and your husband's feelings. You were understandably emotional about the funeral, searching to find humor in a tense situation. Your husband miscalculated the moment, said something that would be impolite (in any circumstance), then became emotional and defensive himself when you called out the inappropriateness of the comment. This is a pretty common dodge - I become extremely defensive when I say something inappropriate!

If I were you, I'd take a few hours/days to regain my composure, then explain to him that you understand why he feels the need to become defensive, and ask him for some understanding for your own emotions. This may be something that the two of you will have to agree to drop.
posted by muddgirl at 10:48 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can't tell without hearing the joke.
posted by fixedgear at 10:50 AM on January 16, 2009


You are not being oversensitive, but you are overreacting, let it go, he meant no harm.
posted by BobbyDigital at 10:51 AM on January 16, 2009


This seems like a classic down the middle relationship thing. It's a little from column A (you being a bit oversensitive) and a little from column B (your husband being kind of a jerk). Combine those two and you get this situation. If neither one was there, the conflict would not have occurred.
posted by milarepa at 10:51 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does it really have to be either you're oversensitive or he's insensitive? It seems like you were both just a little off your game; you didn't quite get it across that this was an important story for you to tell and have appreciated, and he didn't manage to pick up on that, and you ended up sounding oversensitive to him and he ended up sounding insensitive to you, which compounded when you both reacted with surprise to an unexpected outcome. Sounds like a case for letting each other off the hook if you can since there's no bad guy there, just some static in the communication.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 10:52 AM on January 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think you probably did butcher the story, and he thought it would be amusing to point it out. My friends have done this to each other, and it's no big deal.

I think the story is pretty important to you, and you overreacted when he responded the way he did because it wasn't what you hoped/expected to hear.
posted by PFL at 10:52 AM on January 16, 2009


I would have been bummed at that kind of response, funeral or no funeral, so till that point I would not call it an overreaction. The crying and stuff? Yeah, a bit more than the situation might call for. I don't know the nature of the joke, but it seems to me that the fact that it was told at a funeral shouldn't elicit this kind of emotional response. I would be inclined to say that you were already feeling a bit sensitve after such a tragedy. Understandable? Yes. Still a bit of an overreaction? Yeah.

And, see, I have to say that that kind of joking, where the person puts someone else down in a "jokey" way, can be grating. It could be ministerpreted, it could be done at the wrong time, it could come out less jokey than it was intended, it could go down like a lead balloon, it could seem mean, or it could be just plain unfunny. If you and your husband joke around like this with each other, then I can see how he might defend himself and his joke in this situation. It's not like hard and fast rules are usually discussed beforehand, ones that would make it clear when it is and isn't appropriate to joke in such a manner. And I've learned to not use the "well, he just should have known" argument - it's not fair to expect people to "just know".

Not to tell you what to do or nothin', but you guys may re-evaluate just how truly funny that kind of joking around truly is. He hurt your feelings, and according to him, there's a chance you may have hurt his feelings in the past as well.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 10:53 AM on January 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Based on you reactions to the people in this thread, I think you're reacting fairly defensively. While generally I don't think the "don't be so sensitive" reaction is an appropriate one if someone gets offended, if you guys have a history of joking that way, he had reason to think you'd take the joke well. I've found that things end much better if, instead of bursting into tears, I take a breath and tell someone, plainly, that their joke hit a sore spot for me. And then I accept their apology when it's given.

People aren't going to know what's truly sensitive for you until you tell them. As much as we'd like people to be mind readers, that's just not the way the world works, even with husbands.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:54 AM on January 16, 2009


And... ? I keep scanning your question for whatever happened after, but there's nothing there. So he made a stupid and slightly insensitive joke, you were offended, he said he was joking, you walked away to cool off, and... ?

See, yeah, you're both on different sides. He probably shouldn't have been insensitive, you probably overreacted a little because of the recent trauma. That's natural: you can't agree on everything in your entire marriage, and you can't both avoid sometimes doing things that aren't quite perfect. I mean, what do you usually do when that happens? Isn't there a standard give-and-take? If you were both sticking to your guns and refusing to back down from your positions, that would be bad, but I don't even get the feeling you're doing that; I can't even tell if you've talked with him about this since it happened.

On your end, remember this isn't a referendum on what he ought to do or what you ought to do or on how you'll both have to treat each other for the rest of your lives. On his end, well, it was bad husband-fu for him to play the "well, you do it all the time, why can't I?" card, which (in my experience) almost never works.

But it sounds like this was a relatively minor blip in your lives. You were hurt, but he isn't seriously callous and hateful, right? And he was defensive, but you're not seriously putting him on the chopping block, are you?

He's going to be the one to talk to about this with. The lesson here is: walk away, cool off, and then go back and figure it out. If that doesn't work, well, we're always here, but I don't think there's much we can do for you until you try.
posted by koeselitz at 10:58 AM on January 16, 2009


I don't think you're being oversensitive.

I sometimes make jokes like this that are only funny because they are something I would never feel. For example, if I invite a friend over for dinner and we have a great time, I'll say "God, I hate that guy!" to my wife while he's on his way out but within earshot.

If someone didn't take these kinds of jokes the right way, I would absolutely want to know about it. I might also get a little defensive initially if you brought it up, but would later appreciate your doing so.

Seconding Potomac Avenue.
posted by ODiV at 10:59 AM on January 16, 2009


Look, you emphasized this part: a story from a funeral of a loved one who recently committed suicide, which seems like it was very important to you and shouldn't be made fun of and then expressed the thought the he should apologize and stop trying to justify his behavior.

That sounds like you think he committed some grave offense. Frankly, if you're married and think the spouse is generally a good person, you should quickly forgive these little things and move on, because you know they're a good person. Communication is hard at the best of times, so

But frankly, it seems like you're taking out anger about your uncle's death on your husband because he didn't respond exactly how you wanted him to and now you're treating him like shit, even though you know he's a good guy and you love him. It sounds like you want a pound of flesh over something minor.

If he has a history of making such jokes, to which I normally respond well, does that mean I am now prohibite from being offended by them at truly sensitive moments?

No, it means you take responsibility for your feelings and explain to your husband that you're sensitive at the moment and ask him to knock it off for now.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:59 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


People aren't going to know what's truly sensitive for you until you tell them. As much as we'd like people to be mind readers, that's just not the way the world works, even with husbands.

True, and I think the OP might or might not be "over" sensitive, but she did tell him, and THAT'S when he should have backed off and considered her feelins--she told him it hurt.
posted by Pax at 11:03 AM on January 16, 2009


You're allowed to react the way you did. And you did the right thing in leaving the room rather than let your misery and reaction somehow grow into some screaming match or large fight. People usually do that to distance themselves from an emotional situation and to give them time to calm down and put distance between them and the situation.

But you haven't been able to put distance in this case, have you? You are now at the point where you want your husband to perform a set system of penance to prove that he really is sorry and that, well, that you're right. Right about what, exactly? Is he somehow making it feel as if it was wrong for you to react the way you did? Has your fight now evolved away from what actually happened to a fight for who's #1?

Your husband thinks that it was the joke that is bothering you. That is why he keeps apologizing the way he has. He doesn't understand that it's not the joke that bothers you - rather it is something else. He won't be able to say "I'm sorry" and mean it the way you want him to until you actually understand why you're upset and convey that to him. Did he not react the way to your uncle's death they way you wanted? Are you still grieving and did you not get the support that you originally needed? Do you feel as if your husband, by making that joke, is somehow attacking you or your uncle or something else?

You told a funny story about your uncle and your husband responded using his sense of humor. You both enjoy that sense of humor - you admit that. And, probably, if this joke was said in a situation involving someone else, you probably would have laughed. Was it tasteless? Yes. But is it something that you would have even thought about if it was said about someone else? No. You are not being overly sensitive or over reacting or anything of the sort. Rather you are misunderstanding what your husband is actually saying and you're not able to adequately express why your upset with your husband. He's not being mean to spite you or attack you. He was just doing what he usually does - which is make a joke that you would laugh at. He was not belittling or judging your uncle or you in anyway (assuming that this is true - if not, then that could be your whole problem right there).
posted by Stynxno at 11:05 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think I misread the question. I thought you were asking "Am I being too sensitive for my own good?" To that, the answer is clearly yes.

Perhaps the question was really, "Gee, wasn't my husband being a jerk? Doesn't he owe me an apology?" To that, the answer is clearly no.

If the question was asked in good faith, though, your best course of action is to stop wasting your time being offended by what people say. Taking offense (intended or not) is rarely helpful.
posted by stubby phillips at 11:11 AM on January 16, 2009


Response by poster: And... ? I keep scanning your question for whatever happened after, but there's nothing there. So he made a stupid and slightly insensitive joke, you were offended, he said he was joking, you walked away to cool off, and... ?

I guess the reason for my post, koeselitz, is because I am trying to figure out what is an appropriate way for me to react to things, and what is not (this is a psychological issue for me, a very serious and long-standing one.) I am looking to change my behaviour where it is warranted, and get a more objective perspective on things that upset me, so I can figure out what went wrong and what I can do/expect next time.

I would really like to re-emphasize that I do not think my husband is a fiend. I just genuinely had no idea of knowing who was in the wrong here -- I just knew I felt very hurt -- and now I am thinking about the responsibility we each carry in the situation. For myself, I think I could respond with a more productive reaction next time -- and that is why I marked Potomac Avenue's answer as best.

and now you're treating him like shit, even though you know he's a good guy and you love him. It sounds like you want a pound of flesh over something minor.

BrandonBlatcher: I wasn't aware that I did anything to treat my husband like shit. I was hurt, told him so, and left the room (not as punishment to him, but to defuse the situation.) I have not attempted to extract a pound of flesh from him. I just came here to, hopefully, get a more objective and considered perspective.
posted by peggynature at 11:14 AM on January 16, 2009


To piggyback on what Potomac Ave. said: don't go global with minor irritations/ miscommunications. If your feelings were hurt, they were hurt. It does not mean he meant to hurt you and it does not mean you are oversensitive. It was an interaction that went south, that's all. Don't take one misunderstanding and use it to characterize yourself or your relationship.

"Let's not make this global" is a mantra that my husband and I rely on not infrequently. It works.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 11:15 AM on January 16, 2009


Either way, it's time to let it go. He was a clod. You responded. He apologized. As soon as you forgive him, this is history.

I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by 26.2 at 11:15 AM on January 16, 2009


You may have been a little oversensitive, but considering the weight of the event you were retelling, you had a right to be. Your husband said something stupid and insensitive, but he clearly didn't mean to hurt you. It's probably best to chalk this up to something best left forgotten for both of you.
posted by katillathehun at 11:23 AM on January 16, 2009


True, and I think the OP might or might not be "over" sensitive, but she did tell him, and THAT'S when he should have backed off and considered her feelins--she told him it hurt.

Right, but some people react very negatively to crying. I feel for her, I'm a big crier, too, but my own bursting into tears easily has led to some uncomfortable situations because people react defensively or feel guilt tripped or threatened when people around them are crying.

Which is why she should have told him calmly, first, if possible.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:24 AM on January 16, 2009


What, specifically, would you gain by holding on to this incident?

What, specifically, would you gain by letting it go?

Choose the one that most benefits you as a couple, rather than you as an individual.
posted by scody at 11:26 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: No, it means you take responsibility for your feelings and explain to your husband that you're sensitive at the moment and ask him to knock it off for now.

This part of your answer is actually quite helpful, Brandon Blatcher.
posted by peggynature at 11:26 AM on January 16, 2009


The fact that you couldn't cool off and let this go, finally wandering online to seek validation from strangers, indicates that you are being oversensitive.

You're emotional lately, however good the reason, and will surely end up in awkward/painful situations because of it. Just keep reminding yourself that reality includes others' perceptions, and that your particular situation may make it hard to gauge what is and isn't appropriate. It's a tough time for your husband too, you know -- it's not easy to live with someone who is grieving.
posted by hermitosis at 11:28 AM on January 16, 2009


Best answer: There are (at least) two kinds of "sensitivity".

1) Directed outward. Am I able to sense the emotions, needs and desires of my fellow earthlings? In this sense (get it?), there is no such thing as "oversensitive".

2) Directed inward. Do I let situations affect my equanimity? In this case, it has very little to do with sensing things and more to do with making others responsible for my feelings.

I try to embrace the first and reject the second. It works for me most of the time. I recommend this strategy to others.
posted by stubby phillips at 11:35 AM on January 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


I had the same reaction as Potomac Avenue. You were both being human--imperfect, but true to your feelings at the time. Sometimes moments just turn out way awkward even though no one meant them to, then you both feel embarrassed and hurt and confused. Give it a little time, I bet you'll both feel better about it really soon. It was just a little interactive misfire. We ALL have them, more often than we'd like.

Try not to beat yourself up about it, despite the chorus of "yes you're oversensitive." Give yourself and him the benefit of the doubt.
posted by lampoil at 11:38 AM on January 16, 2009


I would have to say oversensitive. I don't think what your husband said is really very offensive, to be honest, circumstances or no. Six months later and you tell a *funny* story from a funeral - that would not indicate to me that I should expect the reaction you described above if I told you that you didn't do a very good job of telling the story.

A reasonable alternative response from you - "Wow, that really hurt to hear you say that. I guess I'm still really raw when it comes to topics around my uncle and his death, and I need for you to be especially understanding with me."

I think his subsequent responses are valid - he wouldn't have said it if he knew it would hurt you. He is sorry he hurt you. He meant his comment as a joke - why do you want him to pretend now that he didn't?

I'm not sure I understand why you're asking him to apologize multiple times here. You are not being reasonable.
posted by KAS at 11:45 AM on January 16, 2009


I think there's a little bit of everything going on. You maybe were a little more sensitive than usual, but you also have extremely good reason to be thus -- your uncle has just died and you are grieving. No one is 100% quite "themselves" under these conditions, and things that ordinarily would have rolled off your back may completely unhinge you, or vice versa. Your husband could have shown a bit more restraint in cracking that kind of a joke, particularly out of sensitivity to your being a bit more...sensitive right now, but on the other hand, if you've joked right back at him before, his lapse is also excusable.

So -- it looks like yes, you were a little more sensitive, but it makes perfect sense for you to be so right now; but at the same time, your husband was a little insensitive, but it also makes perfect sense why he maybe forgot.

Although, the fact that he also pointed out that you sometimes say "insensitive" things may be something else you want to address as a separate issue -- if he really has been bothered in the past, why the hell hasn't he been saying anything before this? If he hasn't been bothered, why the hell did he bring it up now? It's not fair if he's been just sulking and then waiting for a chance to turn it on you, he should have said something like you were doing right now. And if he really wan't bothered, then he shouldn't have gotten all defensive like that.

Bottom line -- yes, you are a little oversensitive, but that's just right now and for a very good reason.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:47 AM on January 16, 2009


I was hurt, told him so, and left the room

Right and he apologized and you're still angry with him. Did you tell him what you wrote here ("I suppose I was sharing the story not just in the way one would pass on a joke, but because it was my uncle's story, and I am still grieving his death, and I just felt like...sharing, and maybe having a laugh at the story together -- not becoming the butt of the joke myself.") or have you stuck to the "that was a jerky thing to do" when talking to him?

You're married. You love him. You know he's a good guy. Quit trying to get him to jump through hoops unless you verbalize what those hoops are.

I have not attempted to extract a pound of flesh from him.

You write: 'Still, I feel either the apologies were not sincere, or they were inadequate for the offense caused. They were more like, "Well I'm sorry to have offended you" than "It was the wrong thing to say, and I'm sorry." '

Your whole attitude, even though your wrote you're seeking objective advice, is "I'm right, he's wrong and he better apologize the proper way" That's not a good thing to do period and it's not a good thing to do when you're married. I'm sorry your uncle died and that you're no doubt having a rough time of it, but that doesn't give an excuse to go off on your husband. No, he wasn't perfect, but you're still simmering and marriage leaves a long for things to boil over.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:56 AM on January 16, 2009


You were justifiably oversensitive. But you love each other, so I think you both need to make concessions on your emotional takeaways, and move on.

Sometimes your significant other needs to just understand that your emotional sensitivity level is out of whack sometimes, and you overreact. It happens to everybody.

I thought it was understood that insensitive jokes are designed to be somewhat tasteless and cause an emotional response; and that they often miss their targets.

If you tell an insensitive joke, you have to be prepared that the other person may not get it. And if they don't get it, you have to prepare for the consequences. The best response is not necessarily going to be "Hey it was just a joke - sorry," no matter how sincere you are.
posted by jabberjaw at 12:49 PM on January 16, 2009


Yes. You are being oversensitive.
posted by languagehat at 1:12 PM on January 16, 2009


Bad joke or no, are you sure you got it?

(Compare your joke to his jokey response. Any parallels?)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:13 PM on January 16, 2009


I wouldn't focus on figuring out who's right and wrong in the current situation. I guess you could get enough replies here to convince yourself you're right and he's wrong, if that's what you want. And maybe he could go to other people and tell his side of the story and convince himself he's right and you're wrong.

I'd think about the ongoing pattern (battle?) between you two & whether or not you want to try and change it, or keep taking potshots and then arguing over who's right and wrong this time.
posted by citron at 2:26 PM on January 16, 2009


I'm not sure, I may be on the side of oversensitive here. It would be difficult to realize that you were not in the mood for humor when you were retelling a joke. I really think, without being there for the nuances of the conversation and the mood at the time, its impossible to tell if you reacted rationally or not.

Your reaction put you and your husband in a situation that you both, undoubtedly, found unpleasant. Was that situation worse than the feeling you got when the statement was made?

If so, you overreacted.
posted by aleahey at 2:52 PM on January 16, 2009


Not to tell you what to do or nothin', but you guys may re-evaluate just how truly funny that kind of joking around truly is. He hurt your feelings, and according to him, there's a chance you may have hurt his feelings in the past as well.

I wanted to quote this for truth. I never use sarcasm in my close relationships for this reason. Too much potential for hurt, and damn it's awful to compliment someone and have them think you're being sarcastic.
posted by sondrialiac at 3:14 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry your uncle died and that you're no doubt having a rough time of it, but that doesn't give an excuse to go off on your husband.

No, you are not sorry and don't use the pretext that you are to justify an absurd throwaway statement about the OP not going off on her husband. Complete and utter garbage and of a piece with all of your other worthless comments here.

peggynature, a relative of yours died, unexpectedly, in a traumatic way. The pain associated with the loss you experienced must be excruciating. Almost physical is how I would imagine it, like you have been weighed down and experience a recurring nausea.

So, a few months pass, and you try to relate something that made you smile when you thought about your Uncle. And your husband criticizes your telling of the joke?

Where was he during the last six months? Hasn't he seen how much pain you were in? Does he have even an single bit of tact and decency? Perhaps he is as self-involved as Brandon?

But wait. Then he defends the criticism by saying that "he makes jokes like this all the time (i.e., saying something totally inappropriate and otherwise offensive at key moments, but with a delivery that indicates he's only joking. I guess I missed his 'delivery' this time, because he sounded like he was serious.)"

Right, it was your fault, you had the responsibility to read his tone. Wow. . .just. . .wow.
posted by mlis at 8:16 PM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would have been hurt by that too. I don't necessarily think you're being oversensitive, but I wonder if this type of humor is something you guys might consider toning down. Your description of "saying something totally inappropriate and otherwise offensive at key moments, but with a delivery that indicates he's only joking" reminded me of something I've experienced. An ex of mine, an overall good guy who's still a friend, often used this type of humor. In the right mood I found it hilarious, but over time it became a subtle corrosive in our relationship. He was never deliberately mean, but sometimes I felt like he wasn't really listening to what I was saying, he was just listening to how I was saying it, waiting for an opportunity to make one of his mock-sneering jokes. Sometimes this hurt my feelings but I didn't feel I had the right to get overtly angry since I had previously laughed at such humor. Over time I became more defensive and less willing to "risk" sharing things. And I could dish out the sarcasm too, and I no doubt hurt his feelings at times. Now, like sondrialiac said above, I don't ever use sarcasm against my partner due to the potential for misinterpretation and unintentional hurt.

So I wouldn't say you were overreacting, but I can see how your husband might have misjudged how you were feeling and thought this kind of joke was OK. If you two have a history of small misunderstandings arising from sarcasm, perhaps slight resentment can build up and let itself out when you are going through a difficult time and not receptive to that brand of humor.
posted by asynchronous at 2:33 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Complete and utter garbage and of a piece with all of your other worthless comments here.

The answers given by me are based on being married, having fun telling tasteless joke with the wife, occasionally saying the wrong thing or having the wrong thing said to me, having been devastated by the death of a close aunt, an uncle, grandparents, and being married to a woman who's best friend committed suicide 15 years ago, who still gets misty eyed about that fact every now and then, understandably so.

All of this has taught me that grief makes a person sensitive at times and that's perfectly natural. Sometimes people even focus on smaller issues, fighting about them more than normally, even with those that are close to them. This is human and understandable and it's something every one of us will do and have done to us.

None of that makes it ok, per se. You're still fighting with and abusing those you love and love you. Knock it off, own up to your feelings, communicate your feelings and let the people who love you help you instead of turning them into the enemy because they can't read your mind and feelings.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:39 AM on January 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


own up to your feelings, communicate your feelings and let the people who love you help you instead of turning them into the enemy because they can't read your mind and feelings.

AMEN.
posted by scody at 11:36 AM on January 17, 2009


He made a mistake, and you felt hurt. But then both of you wanted to be right. When this happens again, and it will, tell him how you felt, or wait a while and tell him later. "I felt bad when you criticized my story." There's no need to tell him you think he was wrong. If he gets defensive and asserts that you're wrong to feel the way you do, just stop talking about it. You're entitled to your feelings, but you can't make him say what you want to hear.

It may take a few tries when different situations arise, but it will work.
posted by wryly at 7:05 PM on January 17, 2009


So, I told the humourous story, and when I was finished, he said, "Well, you sure butchered that story." I guess I gave him shocked/angry look, and he followed up with, "No offense."

I'm sorry about your uncle, but I laughed at your telling of this incident and both of his comments.

I think in a couple of months you might look back on this incident and actually start laughing, and feel grateful for being married to a guy with a good sense of humor.

Right now, though, it seems like he didn't mean any harm. You thought something was funny, and he responded in spirit (though not the way you expected.) But unexpectedness is the essence of humor, isn't it?

1. Yeah, I'm gonna say you are feeling a mite sensitive right now. But that's understandable.
2. I don't understand what he would apologize for. It seems unreasonable to me.
3. You sounded a little control freakish there. It's okay for YOU to retell the funny story, but it's not okay for your husband to make another joke based on that. What were you expecting your husband to do, exactly? Golf clap, while cringing inwardly inside? Sorry to be harsh, but really.

I think you need to go explain to your husband you are feeling sensitive right now, and maybe apologize for yelling at him earlier. But you also need to tell him to cut you some slack, you're still getting over everything that's happened with your uncle.
posted by uxo at 4:02 AM on January 31, 2009


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