DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’ve been married nearly eight years to a man I dated for 11 years before we married. He’s my best friend and I love him dearly, but we argue terribly all the time over small things relating to behavior, manners and protocols.
Specifically, my husband is in the process of trying to find another job, and he has asked me to help him by critiquing his résumé. Whenever I tell him that the résumé is too long or needs certain criteria, he gets defensive, angry and argumentative.
He carries grudges, and I’m no better, because I feel like I’m always correcting him (or needing to). It’s not just about his résumé. There are other things too, like cleaning our home and running my business.
He has good ideas that he shares with me, too. But many times, while his intent is good, his ideas are misguided. He’s always suggesting things I can’t use and becomes angry when I tell him I don’t want his suggestions.
Based on the little I’ve mentioned here, can you please suggest ways I can communicate and be more diplomatic to my husband? I don’t want his feelings to be hurt, but when he can’t take criticism, or my rejection of his ideas, my own feelings are hurt.
This matter has gotten wildly out of hand over the past few years, with constant corrections of each other flying back and forth, and withdrawal of affection on both of our ends.
I’m to the point I don’t want to be bothered with him at times, because I can’t talk with him and just be a wife. Everything is taken so personally. We walk on eggshells and retreat from each other to keep from having to deal.
GENTLE READER: Ever heard of not mixing business with pleasure?
Other than the housecleaning — and Miss Manners will get to that in a moment — all of these arguments stem from advising each other on your outside work. So stop. Make a deal to stay out of those matters, since they seem only to lead to strife, hurt feelings and stalemates.
And when it comes to cleaning, divide up the chores by who hates each task least and/or is better at it — as long as the discussion itself does not lead to further criticism and competition.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My mother has a dog with generous proportions. People — usually well-meaning ones, such as dog groomers concerned about his long-term health — often tell my mother that her dog is too fat. It does not have the desired effect.
They also try to pressure me to talk to her.
How might my mother respond?
GENTLE READER: “Thank you for your concern,” with a full stop afterward, indicating that there will no further explanation.
This is an all-purpose response, Miss Manners finds. It will work for your mother — and for you when asked to talk about it with your mother.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.