Am I the asshole for not texting my spouse the first day of a trip?
September 26, 2023 10:10 PM   Subscribe

A family member had a significant birthday so I went out of town for four days. Lots of gatherings and distractions ensued. I did send a note and video to my spouse the second day and got a short message back. When I got home, I was chastised more than once because I didn’t let them know the first day that I’d arrived at my destination. Then it blew up. A lot.

This isn’t the first time my spouse has been mad that I haven’t communicated when they thought I should. We’ve been going through some other hard things lately and I was glad for a little break to be honest. I know this sounds small, but it doesn’t feel that way.
posted by Gusaroo to Human Relations (41 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would be annoyed if my partner didn't let me know they'd arrived at their destination safely, but I would also text them if I didn't hear anything.

Noting it's a problem for them when you don't let them know you've arrived is fine, in my opinion. Repeatedly complaining about it does not sound constructive.
posted by the primroses were over at 10:37 PM on September 26 [40 favorites]

I mean not necessarily if that was the deal you two had. But their frustration might mean "I was worried about you" or "I'd like to be reassured I entered into your consciousness". So the answer is going to be your communications sound broken, and to get some support, couple's therapy would really help you. This isn't Reddit, no one is judging one another (I mean maybe for spelling, or just silently judging) and you two need some help. I hope you get what you both need need to feel better.
posted by Augenblick at 10:40 PM on September 26 [7 favorites]

It is standard practice in most cohabitating spousal relationships to let the other person know that you have arrived safely when traveling out of town. I have a somewhat non-traditional travel setup with my spouse, who travels without me frequently, and often don't hear from him for a few days when he's gone. He knows that's fine with me, but he also always lets me know he has arrived safely because I *do* care about that. That said, I would text him for an update if he didn't contact me rather than stewing about it, so that part is on your spouse.

Everyone's relationship is different and it sounds like your spouse has been fairly clear they would like, if not a daily check-in, clear communication that you have arrived at your destination without trouble. That doesn't sound like a lot to ask on your end. If things have been tough and you would like them to be less tough, apologize and do it going forward. I think it is worth it to talk about your/spouse's communication needs and come up with a plan you can actually commit to (and, yeah, might be helpful to do this with a therapist, esp. if things have been tough all around).
posted by charmedimsure at 10:43 PM on September 26 [7 favorites]

In my family the expectation when traveling is that you will let all concerned parties know when you have safely arrived. It is an assumed thing. Only you can say what the expectation is in your family.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:44 PM on September 26 [7 favorites]

So you know that lack of communication has been a bone of contention. Even if you didn't want to have a phone conversation, you could've sent a no-brainer text saying you arrived in one piece and would talk the next day. We have "Find My" on our phones and I can see where everybody is. Still, I would expect at least the minimal confirmation you arrived save and sound. Same goes for when you're leaving your spot and heading home.
posted by dancinglamb at 10:44 PM on September 26 [3 favorites]

posted by HonoriaGlossop at 10:53 PM on September 26 [5 favorites]

It's weird to me they just didn't text or call you to ask if you arrived safely? Loved ones forget stuff sometimes, it's possible to follow up with them and check in.
posted by cnidaria at 11:01 PM on September 26 [30 favorites]

Real-time confirmation that your loved ones have safely reached their destination is one of the great gifts of modern life. It’s pretty standard, in my experience, to send a text or quick email that just lets your partner know your flight landed or you’ve checked into your hotel or you’ve gotten to your family’s house. I also do this for the people I was just visiting if they’re family, like my parents and brother and cousins, or long term friends.

I don’t think it’s an asshole thing to NOT send these messages, but as someone with an anxiety disorder I find them very reassuring and would definitely want them from loved ones. So if your spouse is upset about this, could there be underlying anxiety instigating the upset? It sounds like even if they aren’t dealing with a mental health issue that your relationship is causing a lot of anxiety regardless. So proactively communicating stuff to mitigate their anxieties might be wise for you both to do, especially in the midst of relationship drama as you are, so you can get to a place where you both can compassionately work things through.

I do think that you sending a message and video the next day was good but if I’d been in your spouse’s position I would have messaged you for a check in beforehand a few hours after your expected arrival or the next morning. If they didn’t feel like they could message you about this, like it would upset you somehow, that is a pretty big red flag.

People are so bad at communicating expectations though. Like, my brother is chronically single and travels constantly and rarely lets anyone know if he arrived safely and my parents and I have both asked him to do this and modeled it for him our whole lives, but he only manages to send a “got to [whatever country it is this time] safely!” message like, a third of the time. We don’t think he’s an asshole, we just know he is the busiest man alive, has no spouse to develop social expectations with, and doesn’t perceive travel as remotely stressful or taxing (unlike me.) But like, none of us are his spouse, and travel is a huge part of his life. If either of those things change soon, he would be able to adapt his habits to accommodate the other person - as long as they communicated these expectations to each other clearly ahead of time or after the first one or two mishaps.

It sounds to me like your issue is not the surface conflict you describe. If this is the catalyst for a much bigger conflict, gather your resources and find a space to hammer them out with each other.
posted by Mizu at 11:12 PM on September 26 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This problem goes both ways, as evidence by the responses that are already here. I suggest this specific incident is a bit of an indicator of a bigger question: you both have established frustrations about communication, so are you going to seek permission to be angry about an incident or are you going to address the underlying stuff with your spouse?

That may sound glib, but this is something that I think of now as "a hand pointing at the fire." Everyone sees the hand differently, but the vital thing is to be able to react to the fire instead of disagreeing about whether the hand is pointing appropriately. You have your rationale for your behavior, as does your spouse. You can and should be talking about those deeper motivations, and the feelings attached to them, with one another. If you don't want to do this with a professional (which is advisable) you can still do yourselves a favor by picking up a relationship)communication book and reading it together. Something, anything to take the heat off of your respective feelings of being wounded (which it sounds like you both are) and emphasize your mutual focus on repairing what's at the bottom of this and charting a path to deal with these situations in the future.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:15 PM on September 26 [21 favorites]

Best answer: Relationship questions which start "Am I the asshole?" usually resolve to "Yes". Ogden Nash explains why:
“To keep your marriage brimming,
with love in the wedding cup,
whenever you're wrong, admit it;
whenever you're right, shut up.”
You need to commit to one or the other. By the way, if you are an iPhone user, iOS17 includes a "check in" feature which will automatically notify selected people when you reach a particular destination. Might be worth considering.
posted by rongorongo at 12:20 AM on September 27 [11 favorites]

I wonder if this is less "I'm worried about your safety" and more "I'm lonely and miss you a lot and I'm holding my breath waiting for your call". That text from a loved one stands in for so many little daily reassurances and comforts - the keys in the door, I'm going to get to see my love! A smile and a hug, my love is happy to see me! A hand with the dishes, a kind touch, every one of those little daily bits of positivity can leave a surprising hole when the loved one is away.

And it's easy to text "did you get in ok? How was your trip?" but hard to text "hey hey hey are you thinking of meee I'm bored I miss yoooou" five hours in, because we needy folks rightfully understand it sounds needy! So that's the pattern I see hinted at. But you may still be able to address it just by saying it's ok if she texts you if she hasn't heard, you might be busy but you'll still be happy to hear from her.
posted by Lady Li at 12:30 AM on September 27 [12 favorites]

If it blew up in a big way, it’s about something more than just sending the text that you got there. Maybe don’t focus so much on whether you should have sent a text, but think about why it all kicked off into something bigger. Those other hard things & your need for a break that you mentioned… they’re probably relevant.
posted by Puppy McSock at 1:00 AM on September 27 [12 favorites]

It is, sadly, normal to text when you've arrived somewhere safely. The only way you can really avoid that expectation is if they don't know you have left (eg because you don't live with them). I wouldn't go as far as to say you're an asshole for not doing it. That's probably more of a reaction to your reason why you didn't ("I was glad for a little break to be honest"). That also doesn't make you an asshole but it does mean that you prioritised your wants.
posted by plonkee at 1:32 AM on September 27

Best answer: In my current relationship this wouldn't be an issue, because my partner trusts my good intentions and gives me the benefit of the doubt. If he hadn't heard from me, was worried and I apologised, saying I had been busy, then that would be that, end of discussion.

In a previous relationship, this would be one of many things that would create a blow-up without me intending to cause harm. There were many things wrong in that dynamic, including that my partner never trusted I had his best interests at heart. My small mistakes were also always piled up to indicate that I "didn't care" enough, rather than being contextualised based on how busy, tired, sick etc. I was. It took me 8 years to realise it doesn't have to be that way.
posted by guessthis at 1:42 AM on September 27 [15 favorites]

I’ve been in a relationship with someone who didn’t do the “I’ve made it to my destination” check in text/call. His family didn’t do the check in thing so he just didn’t know it was a thing people did.

I found it very frustrating. I had a conversation in which I let him know I found it very frustrating. And while it took some time and additional reminders that this was important to me, it was something he started doing.

Which is all to say that there are people who don’t know that this is an expectation and there are people for whom it is an expectation. And if you are the former in a relationship with the latter, you’re not a jerk to not know the expectation but it would really be good to meet this expectation because it isn’t that hard to do and it is important to your partner.
posted by sciencegeek at 1:58 AM on September 27 [9 favorites]

It’s not clear to me whether you knew this was important to your partner. Very few people in my life do the check in thing, so I would need someone to tell me if they wanted me to, personally. But then I would try hard to remember to do it, as it’s a small thing to do to make a loved one more comfortable.

But they do need to tell you when they expect communication- if the expectation is that you just know what the “right” kinds and times of communication are, that’s not reasonable.
posted by Stacey at 4:17 AM on September 27 [3 favorites]

We’ve been going through some other hard things lately

All the more reason to be more considerate of your partner, assuming you want your relationship to survive the hard things.
posted by headnsouth at 5:19 AM on September 27 [4 favorites]

There's not a single right answer here. I'm not someone who either expects or naturally offers "I arrived" texts unless I've been traveling in dangerous conditions, and I can tell you that there are people for whom that is perfectly fine. On the other hand, under normal circumstances it would be odd for me to not text my partner anything at all for an entire day- but it is likewise unthinkable to me that, were I truly worried about my traveling partner's wellbeing, I would not just initiate the text myself.

You know your spouse and the history of your relationship. If your practice has been to make contact and this time you didn't, it makes sense that they would register the absence of communication as meaningful. Even if they know things are rocky, it makes sense to be hurt by the implicit message that they aren't a priority. I'm curious about your use of the word "chastised"- that's a word that can either signal discomfort about someone else's reasonable expression of hurt and displeasure and a tendency to interpret that as an attack, or it can describe a relational environment in which one person is indeed coming down hard and relentlessly on the other whenever they are displeased. Could be both; those things often feed each other in a pursuer-distancer kind of deal. But there's obviously more here, and I would guess that probably both of you are feeling misunderstood.

In any case, look, I have been in the "I was glad for a little break to be honest" place and I'm not going to judge you for leaning into the time you had away from the tension. And I understand the feeling of getting not just physical but also psychic space away from a troubled relationship- it is not the same when you're away but feel tethered by your phone just the same. I would suggest that maybe in the future you can pre-negotiate this with your spouse: to address both of your needs, I would say that you proactively agree to send the "I'm here" text (even begrudgingly; this costs you nothing- if that really feels like too much, agree together on an emoji) sometime within the first x hours of your, say, weekend away, and then something else at the 48-hour mark, or when you're headed home, or whatever works to let you feel like you've had enough mental space and they aren't feeling totally left in the dust. You're giving baseline consideration to them, they are managing whatever anxiety they have during your offline time. Hard times suck, but treating both of your needs as valid and compromising even if you're not feeling especially charitable can at least mitigate additional difficulty.
posted by wormtales at 5:57 AM on September 27 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In my family, travel check-ins are a thing demanded by certain people with poorly controlled anxiety. I learned they were (now) expected via a distraught phone call when I was nearly 30. They are not reciprocal. I hate 'em. I know it's not objectively a terrible idea but it feels more like control than care to me. So, basically it probably totally depends on your specific relationship, but feeling good/relieved about not having to report in sounds very familiar to me.
posted by mersen at 6:06 AM on September 27 [9 favorites]

We’ve been going through some other hard things lately and I was glad for a little break to be honest. I know this sounds small, but it doesn’t feel that way.

My guess is - the context of other hard things matters a lot here. When small things become big things it is generally because it fits a trend or narrative the other person has going already.

I do think my partner in general would worry a lot to not hear from me when I have arrived (particularly because as the other parent to my child they'll manage their worry as well) and sending even a quick "got in safe, hope you have a great couple of days" has an outsized benefit to them relative to what it would cost me in terms of time. And that kind of stuff, at least in my relationship (I can do a small thing that matters to you even if I don't want to/it doesn't matter to me) is pretty core to how we express love towards one another.
posted by openhearted at 6:07 AM on September 27 [1 favorite]

AITA is the wrong frame for this sort of thing. This is your relationship with your spouse - the only rules are what works for both of you. You now know that your spouse would like you to text when you arrive safely after travel. What do you want to do with that information?
posted by Ragged Richard at 6:09 AM on September 27 [13 favorites]

I don't think you're a jerk for not sending the text, but I do agree with the others that it is good to do the things that are important to your partner.

It does seem that this could be symbolic of other problems and patterns in your relationship. In your shoes I'd be concerned that rather than trying to answer the question of whether I'd arrived by texting me, my partner let it fester until they blew up. As others have mentioned, there are practical ways of handling whether or not to make arrival texts a habit, but the larger communication issues might require a different approach.
posted by rpfields at 6:15 AM on September 27 [1 favorite]

My spouse and I travel separately quite frequently, and we don’t have an established “arrived safely” communication routine. In fact, I’m not even sure what that means, really—my plane landed? I am at my hotel? I made it to my meeting on time? Perhaps it is because we, like Mizu’s brother, don’t find travel to be much more exceptional than regular commuting (they don’t text me when they get to work; I don’t text them when I get to the coffee shop). We both just…expect it to be fine unless told otherwise.

That said, we do text and call each other quite often during travel, even if the routine is not so rigid. We will often text from the plane or a cab, but it is just to connect in general because we miss each other, and not tied to “arriving.” We have each been a little hurt on occasions we didn’t hear from each other at all on any given day, unless we knew in advance we were going to be exceptionally busy or unable to for technical reasons. But even in that case the non-traveling person can always text first, and apologies are the end of it. Unless this pattern was broken repeatedly, especially after I communicated I was hurt, I would not be upset.

On preview, I agree with rpfields that the real crux of the issue is this: In your shoes I'd be concerned that rather than trying to answer the question of whether I'd arrived by texting me, my partner let it fester until they blew up. I think you are right to identify that the issue here is bigger communication problems, and not this specific incident in isolation.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 6:37 AM on September 27 [1 favorite]

Whether or not your spouse asked for the arrival check-ins previously, they have clearly asked for that now. So, going forward, it would seem polite (and very low effort) to send the "I've arrived" text. The low-effort moments to send that are usually while sitting on the plane waiting to deboard and when checking in at the hotel.

But, also not everyone expects or wants this; it's not a universal thing. No one in my family does travel check-ins, and my spouse doesn't ask for it either. (However, I have location sharing turned on with my phone, so if she was wondering where on a trip I am at and I hadn't texted recently, she could just look.)

I used to do a lot of fieldwork, meaning traveling with a group of people, all staying at the same hotel, working together all day, often with no cell service while out in the field, and eating meals mostly together. So because of the lack of privacy you learn about everyone's communication expectations with their partners/families. It runs a gamut from multiple scheduled check-in calls every day, down to near-zero contact. The key is finding what works for you and your partner, and then following through on that.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:40 AM on September 27 [1 favorite]

There is indeed a widespread social expectation to let your parter (or parents, or person you are traveling away from) know shortly after the fact that you arrived safely after travel.

Is it universal? Absolutely not. There are couples that regularly have to travel away from each other for work. I would have no expectation that my spouse, upon landing at 8am for a 9am business meeting and a day of work in a remote location, would need to take the time to text me that same day. Once you get through, say, a hundred brief, stressful business or family trips, the entire expectation of "let me know you arrived safely" starts to seem absurd. (We're generally naturally in touch within 36-48 hours with texts or emails about "things that have come up" or "funny stories to share" or "hey, how's it going?" and it sounds like that's what you did here too - what you did wasn't universally problematic).

But this is something I call a Golden Rule Failure. Many of us have been told to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" as the gold standard of personal behavior. But I would never, ever expect my spouse to contact me immediately upon arrival when traveling. We've both literally been around the world, travelled hundreds or even thousands of times safely on our own. It doesn't seem productive in any reasonable way. They can travel, and if they don't text me on landing, it's just not a big deal at all. It sounds like you had no need or expectation for your spouse to contact you upon landing in a similar situation, and so their request for something you would not want them to do for you seems baffling.

So, the question here becomes not a matter of "doing what you would have your spouse do for you," but a consideration of what their communication expectations are. A discussion may reveal a substantial mismatch between your experience or communication style and theirs. In a case like this, there's no "wrong" or "right".

If it's something onerous or against your morals, that's one thing. But in this case, meeting their expectations sounds like it's just sending a text when you get in. Which is... just sending a text, a minute of your time. We all have weird idiosyncratic emotional and practical needs that our partners really would never imagine given their own experience, and the trick in a relationship here is to just do a solid and when it's reasonably possible and not a serious imposition, when your partner tells you what they'd like, even when you think it's kind of weird or not in line with prior experience, just do the thing.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 7:11 AM on September 27 [1 favorite]

IMO: it's weird to text to say that you arrived safely to a mostly safe destination. I had a friend in college who would call or text her mom everywhere we went. It was weird.

But for some families, it's a thing. If your spouse wants you to text when you arrive, just do it.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:15 AM on September 27 [1 favorite]

I would assume if there's no reason why someone might NOT arrive safely, like bad weather, that they arrived safely. I'd only want you to contact me if you actually had a problem and were stuck in Newark.

But this gets you nowhere with worry warts, for sure. You are a Bad Person if you don't alleviate their worry worry worry. You can't do shitall to get them to Stop The Worry other than cave in to their demands.

Signed, Yes I Forgot To Text Mom That I Got Home Safe AGAIN After I Got Gas And Groceries And Got Home An Hour Later Than Expected.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:45 AM on September 27 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I agree with the consensus here that the policy can be negotiated between the people in the relationship, but it's certainly become a more common expectation.

I'm going to diverge a little bit, though, by noting that this, however, is hugely disproportionate:

When I got home, I was chastised more than once because I didn’t let them know the first day that I’d arrived at my destination. Then it blew up. A lot.

If this person was very concerned about your safety, they could've tried contacting you. (Maybe it would've seemed weird to call you, but they certainly could've texted themselves.) It seems that they didn't. And, unless you were traveling under dangerous conditions, not to text isn't wildly thoughtless, so the intensity of the response is ridiculous. This sounds less like anxiety and more like an attempt to establish control. (Admittedly, the two are not mutually exclusive, but I would expect an anxious person to reach out, perhaps a little more frequently than makes sense; your partner here set you up to fail by waiting pointedly instead.) I would be very unhappy in your shoes with this response.
posted by praemunire at 8:08 AM on September 27 [5 favorites]

No I don't think this makes you an asshole, it's understandable you got distracted, but yes you should have texted on arrival if that was expected and customary between you and your partner, it's a small favour to do to someone you love and the cost of not doing such a small favour can be higher than doing it, as you found out... That said, as others have pointed out already, your partner should also have texted you on the first day to ask if you'd arrived safely, rather than wait four days steeping in resentment to unload it on you upon your return. That's not very cool imho.
So I guess you both need to work on communicating better and being a little more accommodating and forgiving to each other.
posted by bitteschoen at 8:18 AM on September 27 [1 favorite]

Some people are saying the cause is worry or anxiety, and that may be true depending on circumstances, and may even be what your partner says explicitly. But I’d guess it’s more likely your spouse felt hurt (something like unconsidered, back of mind, taken for granted, unloved, lonely.) I do think in most long-term partnerships a text that you’ve arrived is a norm. The purpose of it is less to say, “I am safe” than to say “I am thinking of you even while I am somewhere else because I love you.”
posted by vunder at 8:31 AM on September 27 [3 favorites]

Yeah, for some people this is a silly and weird expectation, for others it's normal - this is not a right or wrong thing.

Similar to CtrlAltDelete, when either me or my partner is doing solo travel, we normally do text or call daily because we are generally thinking of each other, but it's not about confirming safety. We also generally let the other person know if a given day will be very busy, and in those cases there's not an expectation of communication.

So, like others have said, the bigger problem seems to be poor communication on both sides, and I agree with Rock 'em Sock 'em's diagnosis of the dynamic/cycle at play. In any case, I'd take the hurt your partner is feeling seriously - even if you don't understand it, it feels awful to be feeling hurt and have your partner not seem to care.
posted by coffeecat at 9:52 AM on September 27 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for all of your perspectives.

My spouse’s family doesn’t have a hard and fast rule about check-ins with each other, but I almost always make contact with my spouse when I get to a destination, because they’ve made it clear that’s what they want me to do. I just didn’t this time and I’ve apologized. (Spouse’s daughter was just in a very distant country and only made contact after three of four days. She was on vacation and my spouse didn’t want to disturb her, so it wasn’t an issue.) My own family has no expectation for this kind of communication unless there is reason for concern.

This is a pretty fair assessment of where we are at the moment:
A very common relationship conflict arises when one person responds to conflict by taking space, and the other person responds to conflict by seeking reassurance or contact. The person who wants to take space feels crowded, picked on, and criticized when that need is not respected. The person who wants reassurance or contact feels rejected, devalued, and anxious when someone who usually is in contact takes space without effectively communicating about it.

We are going through a very difficult situation and that undoubtedly complicated things this time. I do feel “on a leash” at times but it’s only a problem when we’re in conflict.

If anyone has suggestions for resources or books on how to improve couples’ communication, I’d much appreciate it. We do have a counselor but she’s also helping us with a situation concerning spouse’s son. Yep, it’s complicated.
posted by Gusaroo at 10:24 AM on September 27 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seems like you’re both under so much stress from wider family issues that relatively minor failures of communication get blown up in the moment, which can then lead to its own cycle of blame. Might be kinder if you can both let this should-have-texted thing blow over & be forgotten.

In short: no one is the asshole here
posted by rd45 at 11:07 AM on September 27 [2 favorites]

If anyone has suggestions for resources or books on how to improve couples’ communication, I’d much appreciate it.

Was just talking about this last night. My so was describing some rule of software development about what to do when some other developer's systems have to interact with yours, and the rule was about adhering very very strictly to the other system's requirements for what your system needs to do, but extending latitude in terms of what their system needs to do.

This is what's necessary. You do have to be prepared to feel like you're giving the extra grace rather than a perfectly transactioned 50/50. Now obviously both of you need to bring this grace; it won't be sustainable for only party to feel like they're giving more than they get, over time. But for individual transactions, yeah.

With regard to the fight you guys are in, I can only surmise there's something else going on. Because yes, you should have told them you'd arrived, but also they should have accepted your apology, and forgotten about the whole thing when you gave it.

The giving-extra-grace stance here for you would be to forgive your spouse for their outsize reaction; and apologize again if it'll make them feel better; and reassure them that they're your priority. Even if they're being annoying and unreasonable right now. Hopefully this will give them room to extend extra grace to you.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:52 AM on September 27 [2 favorites]

YTA, honestly. Sending a one-sentence text to let your spouse know you arrived safely would have taken such a tiny amount of time and effort. But your spouse is, too -- they could have texted you if they were concerned. But still... yeah, that tiny amount of "I am both thinking of you and being considerate" would have prevented this fight.
posted by maryellenreads at 11:58 AM on September 27 [1 favorite]

If your partner was genuinely concerned about your safety, they would have texted you to check. But what really happened was they felt rejected, unloved, and like you forgot about them, so texting you was the last thing they wanted to do under these circumstances.

IMO you're not an asshole for "failing to let your partner know you have landed". You might be an asshole for failing to make your partner feel loved and missed while you were away from them, and/or your partner might be an asshole for using ~safety~ as their reasonable-sounding cover for feeling rejected, and blowing up at you under the false excuse.

But "asshole" is very much the wrong word here, I cringed out loud while typing it. You both have marital issues, you both need couples' counseling, and the sooner you both stop trying to play "pin the asshole label" on each other, the sooner the counseling will help you put your marriage back together.
posted by MiraK at 12:11 PM on September 27 [1 favorite]

My spouse, under stress, is like you - he communicates less. I, under stress, want more communication. We’ve had your argument.

What helps me is if he apologizes, not for the thing but for forgetting that’s my style and not having bandwidth for working to meet in the middle, and then makes a suggestion to do something together that isn’t talking - see a movie, free concert, do a class together, go kayaking in separate boats, etc. doing something together/in parallel is close but breaks the “I want to talk/I don’t want to talk” thing. (I know you asked about texting - this is how we repair it without relitigating it.)

I don’t think we got this from a resource but that’s what helps us.
posted by warriorqueen at 1:37 PM on September 27 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If anyone has suggestions for resources or books on how to improve couples’ communication, I’d much appreciate it.

Our couples therapist recommended Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love and uses Emotionally Focused Therapy. It's made a world of difference for us.
posted by elmay at 5:43 PM on September 27

I may be totally off here but do you feel safe and respected in this relationship? I worry perhaps that you are in an unhealthy or even abusive relationship when I read this: "I do feel 'on a leash' at times but it’s only a problem when we’re in conflict."

Again, please ignore if I'm not at all correct BUT if you are feeling unsure, we are here for you. As you know, you can even ask anonymously if you would prefer for there not to be a paper trail. <3
posted by smorgasbord at 7:20 PM on September 27 [4 favorites]

Re: resources, +1 to Sue Johnson's 'Hold Me Tight' as a book that gets to the heart of what's happening in couples when the push-pull/pursue-distance dance is happening.
posted by wormtales at 9:57 AM on September 28

What’s the underlying need that drives the desire for this kind of communication? Or what’s the message they receive from the absence of communication? And for you, what’s behind the desire for space? How can you meet that need AND show up for your spouse?
posted by spindrifter at 5:25 PM on September 29

« Older How to not give up on humanity during an election...   |   How many apples is too many apples? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments