Hi all. I’m back and I’m seeking input about my ESFJ wife because her behavior confuses me.
I’m really trying very hard in my marriage to stop the meaningless fights. My wife is also. We don’t fight as often, but each fight that we do have seems to reignite the same old anger and push the same old buttons. I believe I’ve found the root cause and I need some ESFJ advice to remove the source of frustration in my wife’s heart.
My wife has started suppressing her expression of disapproval or annoyance in day to day life. This has led to her building up and exploding periodically. It has also led to absolute confusion on my part because I honestly had no idea she was doing this, or that she was angry. I just thought she was coping better and things were improving.
The things that set my wife off all have one thing in common: my free will. I have started to realize that whenever I make my own decision without giving undue weight to her opinions she simply can’t handle it. For example, we were going to a dance recital for her niece and I loaded the car and our girls. She was running late, as usual- I don’t hold this against her, it’s just how she is and I accept that. I had everything and everyone ready and waiting in the car when she came out. I did this out of respect for her family- I wanted to do everything I could to be sure we were on time for the recital. I was unaware that while we were driving my wife was actually angry. I just thought she was getting ready and putting on makeup. She didn’t tell me until days later that she thought I was angry at her and ‘punishing’ the girls by making them get into the car and wait for her. She also thought that I was angry and giving her the silent treatment while I was driving. This was all news to me! I wasn’t doing anything other than making sure that my always late daughters were ready to go and in the car, and also I was just driving and to be honest in quite a good mood. If I was quiet it was due to regular reasons. I wasn’t the slightest bit angry.
The next day I was doing a ‘honey do’ task by transplanting a large cactus onto our hillside. My wife wanted this done and I thought I was being a good husband by tackling a task for her. She told me that she wanted to help me, as the cactus was so large. I asked her where she wanted it and made sure she was happy. I dug a hole, through so solid slate mind you, with a pickaxe. I knew she had cut her hand pretty badly that morning and I didn’t think it was absolutely necessary that she clamber up a very steep slope and attempt to handle a cactus with me, whilst slipping and sliding. I made a decision that I would just grab it with gloved hands and put it into the hole BY MYSELF. It seemed perfectly normal that I should be able to determine how best to put the cactus into the hole on my own. She started to get angry when she came out and saw that I had carried the cactus up the hillside and had successfully transplanted it. She griped about how she wanted to help me and I explained to her that given the circumstances of the hillside and her hand I made the decision to do it alone. She was angry but I thought she got over it because she stopped griping. I found out days later that she was still mad about it.
Finally, yesterday I was chewing gum on the drive home from work. I know that my wife gets irritated by my gum chewing but there was no place to throw it out in the car. I tried to not chew obnoxiously but I still sensed she was angry. I asked her if she had a place I could put the gum because I was trying to be respectful of her annoyance. She just said, “It’s okay, I put earplugs in”. I thought she was joking but she actually had earplugs in her ears. This made me mad for several reasons. First, I had noticed her not paying attention a few minutes before when I was talking to her, and secondly because she didn’t just ask me to stop chewing gum. It seemed really passive aggressive to me for her to do that. From her perspective, she thought she was being considerate of me by not pointing out my gum chewing and just wearing earplugs. I simply cannot understand how she gets so annoyed by trivial things like my chewing gum that she would bring and put in earplugs- especially when I’m being considerate and trying not to annoy her. It seems to me that she is being ridiculous and petty. She doesn’t seem annoyed by anyone else’s chewing, btw. She chews gum sometimes herself and her smacking doesn’t annoy her. Our cat is the most annoying eater I’ve ever seen but the cat doesn’t get earplugs. I would have gladly stopped chewing if she asked but she didn’t. She just put earplugs in without telling me and zoned out of our conversation. I consider this extremely rude. She acted like I was out of line for saying so.
So my saying something about her earplugs brought out a list of her frustrations for the last week: I shouldn’t have loaded the car and waited for her because our daughters might have gotten hot in the car... I was giving her the silent treatment on the drive (false)... I shouldn’t have decided to just plant the cactus without her being involved(even though more than capable of handling it to her satisfaction alone)... and chewing gum and not understanding her passive aggressive earplug stunt.
All of these things are my actions that I chose without her input. All of them were my decisions. I feel like she wants total control over me and she is willing to do anything to get her way. To me, these are tiny things. She was yelling at me this morning because I didn’t understand ‘the effort’ she has been making to not get annoyed by my behaviors!?! I told her that I will continue to decide to do things without her specific input on my every action. I don’t see that as anyone’s problem but her’s. She kept reiterating how she had tried so hard to bite her tongue and just get along with me despite these things that I keep doing to annoy her. I told her that perhaps she needs to relax and stop trying to control everything. I told her that I feel like she doesn’t like me at all because she’s always getting annoyed by my behavior- even when I’m just being myself and making basic decisions without consulting her first. It’s not like I’m trying to bother her. I’m just living! She wants control of everything. If I step outside of her comfort zone and do something that I would ordinarily do it makes her mad.
Now people here have suggested that I listen to her concerns and try to appease her- I DO. I don’t think it’s possible without giving up my soul and I honestly feel that it would be enabling her OCD controlling nature. I’m a person and my opinions are just as valid as her opinions.
I just need to learn how to help her stop getting annoyed by things that don’t go her way. My wife has her own very annoying habits but I don’t criticize her for them. I just accept her humanity and realize that I don’t get to control everything. I would never put earplugs in my ears because she was smacking her gum! Who cares? Life is full of annoying things. I just can’t understand why she feels like my life is her’s to change and mold to her liking. She only does this with her loved ones. I definitely think it’s an ESFJ thing to want to correct what they perceive as wrong behaviors in their loved ones.