Controlling nature with loved ones

Controlling nature with loved ones

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This is a discussion on Controlling nature with loved ones within the ESFJ Forum - The Caregivers forums, part of the SJ's Temperament Forum- The Overseers category; Hi all. I’m back and I’m seeking input about my ESFJ wife because her behavior confuses me. I’m really trying ...

  1. #1

    Controlling nature with loved ones

    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.
    SummerRoads thanked this post.

  2. #2
    ENTP - The Visionaries

    Hey Forks....

    You just venting here? Cause I gotta be honest....other than the
    individual items she has mentioned, ie the gum chewing?
    That is pretty normal ESFJ stuff.

    First off the cactus is not because you did the
    cactus it is because she did not. So there's that.

    But that is working on the items. That never works.

    Most of the items you mention fall under this old ESFJ adage.

    ESFJ Typical Happy Day.......

    Start-----ESFJ Knows whats going to happen----END.

    This is not to say that is what is needed and/or even wanted.
    It is just to say that anything less than that is going to tilt them a bit.

    Just as much as my days need to be like this.

    Start-----ENTP does not know what is going to happen----END.

    Does not mean I can live a life with all chaos but I can assure
    you that is my native state of goodness.

    Take the good with the bad such as it is.

  3. #3

    Hi @forks

    I'll be honest, I'm nowhere ear as good as Summer at advising on these things.

    It doesn't really surprise me that the Cactus incident annoyed her. She wanted to do the task with you, went off for a bit, and came back to you having just went ahead and done it without her. A bit OTT staying angry about for days after (if she really was) but anyway.

    Whatever you do, don't ever use your cat as an example with regard to noisy eating with your wife LOL.

    What @FueledByEvil said.

    If its any conciliation though to my crummy response, you do sound like you really care :-) I mean you wouldn't be on here with these threads otherwise.

    How are things going by the way with regard to the garden? In your previous thread, you mentioned how you wanted to work on the garden to make it beautiful and had difficulty getting your wife to relax on the idea. You might be interested to know, I just planted some Hostas last week which I decided upon after reading your previous thread, and looking them up.
    SummerRoads thanked this post.

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  5. #4

    Quote Originally Posted by FueledByEvil View Post
    Most of the items you mention fall under this old ESFJ adage.

    ESFJ Typical Happy Day.......

    Start-----ESFJ Knows whats going to happen----END.
    Oh my gosh!! I just laughed out loud! That was hilarious!! Haha :)
    FueledByEvil thanked this post.

  6. #5

    Thank you guys for letting me vent. No one finds the earplugs ridiculous? I really find that insulting, considering I'm in my mid forties...

    The garden is doing wonderfully. My wife even has to admit that her apprehension was misguided. It's beautiful. The other day she thanked me for creating such a great sense of home through my projects. She said that she loves feeling that way about our yard.
    SummerRoads thanked this post.

  7. #6

    Hey Forks!

    Nice to see you on here again! So thoughts that come to mind from reading your post are this:

    I think with ESFJs if they seem mad about the little things then there's probably a deeper thing that is ACTUALLY what's bothering them. But here's the real kicker, sometimes I think they don't even know what that thing is until they talk about it OUT LOUD. As extroverts, we kind of need to "talk it out" or get it out in the universe somehow to process it. I know other introverts that go inward to sort through things but we just need other people to really get over something by talking about it.

    1) Upset about you waiting in car with kids

    I would say that I can't tell you the exact reason because I don't know what lead her to be upset that day to begin with. Your post focused more on the result of her anger than what actually triggered it (before she even went to get ready and you went in the car). I will say though if you ever find yourself in a car ride with an ESFJ and not a single word is spoken....she's pissed or upset. ESFJs talk... like for real, we'll make some kind of conversation anywhere so you sitting quietly next to her for a whole ride going to a family function does not mean things are okay at all. Next time just try to start conversation and then you'll get a better read as to where she's at. If she's really upset, it'll probably bubble out of her.

    2) The infamous cactus move

    She's upset because she thought she was being helpful, told you she was going to help you, went inside to get something or do something, and when she came out it was already done as if you never even heard she wanted to help you. I think this is pretty classic for ESFJ: we think we're helping but the other person didn't actually ask for help and then we get our feelings hurt when we realize the help wasn't appreciated. You could always say when she offers help "Hey babe, I appreciate the offer but because of your hands and the slippery slope I'm just going to do it on my own." One thing to remember about ESFJs, like what Fueled said, you kind of have to tell us you're going to do something, go do it, and then tell us that you did it. I know that sounds crazy, but she wants to know what "the plan" is and when it changes it can be hard. Believe me, I get it. Moving a cactus shouldn't be a big deal and yes, she's an adult she needs to figure out how to deal with this better...just letting you know what's going on on her side of things (right or wrong).

    3) Gum Chewing / Ear Plugs

    Okay, I think she honestly thought she was being more polite by just putting ear plugs in and not mentioning it to you. I don't think this was meant to be passive aggressive honestly. Truly. I think this is almost the bathroom / waiting in car incident but in reverse for you guys. I don't think she meant anything by it and was actually trying to be thoughtful of you but instead you took it as a passive aggressive insult and she's like "What? That wasn't my intent at all." So basically, you're doing the reverse of what she did to you earlier (minus the blowing up part later). She probably has realized you're not going to stop gum chewing, so she's found a way around it that works for her and let's you "have your freedom" to chew it when you want. If you don't like that option then talk to her and find a better compromise. Or if you just don't like the WAY she did it then talk to her about some ground rules about it like "Just let me know you're about to put them in so I don't keep talking and think you're listening because that made me feel like you were trying to ignore me instead of just being thoughtful."

    I'm married to an INTP and I can tell you that his need for freedom definitely can rub against my need for order and predictability... BUT I will say one thing that does really help is when he lets me know what "the plan" is I can therefore set my expectations appropriately. So if he tells me "When I get home today we can chat a little bit but then I need a few hours of introverted time playing my computer game because it's been a hard day" then I know what to expect. Otherwise I might have planned in my head for us to watch a movie together after the kids are in bed or something else. We can be flexible if we are given the right information to plan around. Ha! ESFJs are all about expectations. We have certain expectations of ourselves and of others. If you want her to change the expectations around you then you need to talk about it. For the cactus thing to go smoothly you need to tell her what she can expect. She thought she was going to help you. You then did it on your own = you blew her expectations = she felt hurt.

    It may help you guys if you can build in a daily practice of sitting together on the couch or wherever after kids are in bed or when you have some quiet to just catch up and then ask her how she's feeling. Maybe if she can let it out daily then things won't build up. Ask specific questions and if she just says "I'm fine" then of course she's not. Or if she starts zooming in on your gum chewing and you spend 20 minutes talking about gum chewing... I'm here to tell you, it's not about the gum. Your job is to dig deeper and help her talk about it OUT LOUD for her to realize what the deeper thing is. Maybe she gets upset because your "loud" gum chewing makes her feel like you don't have good manners or no respect for her because she's told you repeatedly it really bothers her and she feels like that's a pattern of things you do etc etc. I"m just making stuff up here but you get the point. Try to fly above it and get her to see past the gum to the deeper issue. My INTP husband has been really helpful at this by noticing patterns and then calling it out and helping me see that it's actually about something different, not the little thing.

    You should be able to have your freedom though. I would just be like "Hey babe, I just want to make sure we both are on the same page. Just as much as you need order and predictability to your day, I need a certain sense of freedom. I think it's really important to honor those parts of each other's personality and also one of the big reasons we were drawn to each other in the first place. We need to give each other that space though and so if you ever feel like something I've done is bothering you then please come to me so we can talk about it before it turns into something bigger." And then make sure you ask her how she's doing regularly.

    Also, maybe use "organization" vs "controlling".... controlling has a negative connotation and since its part of us being an ESFJ (for many good reasons as well that are positive) it almost sounds like it's an attack if someone says you're controlling vs getting that you're just trying to bring order to chaos, which can be a good quality to have too. In the end, try to find appreciation in the differences vs annoyance and then have healthy talks. If she's not into MBTI, she may not get that your need for freedom is actually really a thing... she might just see it as you being lazy or selfish or something like that because she doesn't operate that way... that's something to have a real talk about. It may be an underlying reason of her anger towards you. Worth discussing to find out or at least so she knows it's a real thing and not just a "I want to do whatever I want to do whenever I want to do it" kind of thing. Show her you are responsible and hold to your word and what you say you're going to do but she also needs to trust that you can use your freedom in the way you need and you'll respect her need to set appropriate expectations.

    I read a really great article that said for ESFJ, it's all about:


    And for you it's about:


    So use that information to your advantage. Think of those 3 words for each other and see what you can take away from it. What have your past experiences taught you about how she deals with things and the patterns of how it starts and ends? Can you fly above the fray and use this information and your own logic and experiences to see outcomes before they happen and find a better way to communicate and talk through things. Can you help manage her expectations to a better place? It's much better to upfront tell her information so she can recalibrate her expectations than to do it after the event is already over. Give her a heads up and she can adapt.

    Hope that helps a bit!
    Last edited by SummerRoads; 05-21-2019 at 06:49 PM.
    orion83uk and Executie thanked this post.

  8. #7

    Quote Originally Posted by forks View Post
    Thank you guys for letting me vent. No one finds the earplugs ridiculous? I really find that insulting, considering I'm in my mid forties...

    The garden is doing wonderfully. My wife even has to admit that her apprehension was misguided. It's beautiful. The other day she thanked me for creating such a great sense of home through my projects. She said that she loves feeling that way about our yard.
    I'm really sorry forks - I didn't say anything about the earplugs because it came across as hilarious (sorry, sorry, I know its no laughing matter for you). It sort of fell into the whole 'truth is stranger than fiction' category for me. I think as Summer has said, it really was her just thinking of you in this instance and not passive-aggression, however she should probably have let you know she was doing that.

    I'm so glad to hear things have worked out with the garden though, with the added bonus that the results have made you both happy! Genuinely, it is nice to read that. I don't have natural green-fingers, but working on our garden and getting results always makes me feel good.
    SummerRoads thanked this post.

  9. #8
    ENTP - The Visionaries

    Quote Originally Posted by orion83uk View Post
    Whatever you do, don't ever use your cat as an example with regard to noisy eating with your wife LOL.
    Totally disagree with this.

    I think he needs to use that comparison.

    For the totally selfish reason that I would
    absolutely love to hear about the blow up.....errr i mean
    nice conversation they have afterwards.

    Come on Forks! For Science!

  10. #9
    ENTP - The Visionaries

    Quote Originally Posted by forks View Post
    Thank you guys for letting me vent. No one finds the earplugs ridiculous?
    The amount of ridiculous I find from my ESFJ
    is ridiculous in so far as that is how I personally
    find it.

    People are strange and have strange habits/behaviors,
    type aside.

    I think the ear plugs would not bug me at all.
    I would actually take that as a sign to jam some rap
    and down two packs of hubba bubba.

    Ever the optimist.

  11. #10

    Thank you, Summer! Your posts always remind me of my wife. She doesn’t talk to me much- regarding our issues. She does talk a lot though about her life and stresses. I wish she liked to resolve things, but she just drops them. I end up frustrated without resolving the root of a problem. She will vent to me all evening long. I just absorb her daily frustration. You guys get to absorb mine because she has the attention span of a gnat whenever I bring up an issue.

    I want to be reborn in another life as our cat. He can do no wrong. She will love on him for an hour straight- his purring starts sounding like bullfrogs he is so damn contented. He gets 6 kinds of treats with every meal, and every meal is a feast of the finest canned cat food money can buy. My wife will clip coupons for our stuff and grouch at me for spending an extra dollar but she never seems to notice she spends thousands on that cat each year. All that said, the cat is a gross piglet in feline form. He tosses cat food everywhere and snorts while eating. It’s repulsive really. I never say a word though. How my wife thinks my gum chewing is so offensive, I can’t reason in comparison to her nasty animal. That’s why I get angry about her complaining about my gum chewing. I really believe that people look for reasons to be offended- that is, it’s a choice. The problem is my wife’s selective hearing and irritation. Why am I subject to it while others aren’t? I have some idea why... because she would never feel comfortable expressing dissatisfaction publicly. Her ESFJ personality won’t allow it. At home though, she can take out her irritation on me and get all her negativity out. That is my problem with her behavior. I deserve some of her kindness. She’s so wonderful to everyone! I see her chatting up all these people everyday and they adore her. She listens to them! She cares about their feelings! She goes out of her way to make them smile. I just think she forgets that I’m more than just an outlet for her frustrations and venting about her problems. I want some of her sweet side. I deserve it.


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