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My Husband Is A Great Person But Gets Defensive

by Kimberly
(Napa, CA)

I've been with my husband for 26 years. Everyone who knows my husband loves and respects him including me. With me he is extremely protective of anything he is doing. Makes me think of a dog guarding a food bowl.

Playing guitar, on the computer, building or fixing something. I can be perfectly relaxed, walk into a situation and the next thing I know I'm defending myself because he assumes immediately I mean to interrupt or put my two cents into whatever he is doing.

This is frequent and now I get anxiety and try to avoid him. He's told me that I think he's stupid. He "reads my mind" incorrectly then files it away and refers to it later as fact. He insists I'm mad when I'm not then I wind up mad. I'm a very intelligent and mechanical woman, but I feel like we need to do projects together.

Now he's aware and we have good cycles and are a great team, but he quickly slips back into this defensive thing. I love him dearly and want to continue this life we have made without the emotional defensiveness.

Do I just let him call me out and walk away quietly? I am too strong and independent to live where I am treated this way and constantly stifled.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Kimberly, and thanks for telling your story here. I am glad that you have experienced some good cycles, and at times can work together with your husband as a team. I understand that you want help with dealing with your husband's defensiveness when he feels that you're interrupting his activities. I will try to help.

First, I suggest that you and your husband read Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples together, and do all of the exercises in the back of the book. This will really help you both, and I strongly encourage you to do this.

I'm sure you know you can't get your husband to change. That's up to him. Knowing as little as I do about your situation, the only thing I can think of to recommend is that you give him exactly what he wants. Tell him what you would like to do ahead of time, before he gets involved in any of his activities, and do your best not to interrupt him.

I know this is not an answer for your problem, and it may be something you've already tried. That is why I recommended the book. It will help you both to explore the subconscious material behind your current relationship patterns, and ideally create the type of relationship you both want. And again, it's good that you've already had some success in that.

It will also help you to read the following page on relationships:

dealing with marital problems

I wish you the best of success in your efforts to create a happy, loving marriage and partnership,

Dr. DeFoore

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