Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I are stuck in a very bad pattern of arguing about every little thing all the time. Sometimes I will just walk around the house without talking because I feel like whatever I say is going to spark an argument. He picks at every little thing, and he says I do the same. Naturally, I think that my criticisms are warranted, but these days I can't even tell. All I know is that I am at my wits' end. I do not like my husband anymore. He is not nice to me. I do not like my life. I am constantly in a state of anxiety not knowing what is going to happen next. I don't mean violence, at least not physical. But the war of words is wearing me down. I'm sick of it, but I don't know how to make it stop. -- Worn Out, Chicago

DEAR WORN OUT: You and your husband could benefit tremendously from therapy. Having a neutral party help you figure out the underlying causes for the hostility that seems to be festering may be your ticket to becoming free of this pattern. Ask your husband if he would consider going to therapy with you. If he says no, consider going on your own.

In general, pay attention to your surroundings. What happens right before an argument starts? How do you speak to your husband? Do you say "Good morning"? Do you ask him how his day was? Are there any safe conversations that you have right now? Can you think of any occasions when you get along? If so, examine those to see what worked and how you might incorporate the good communication in other scenarios. Do your best to speak to your husband in a neutral tone. Avoid accusatory language or intonation. Be kind. You may both want to read the book "Conversation Transformation: Recognize and Overcome the 6 Most Destructive Communication Patterns," by Ben E. Benjamin, Amy Yeager and Anita Simon.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I just read the most scathing commentary about me on social media. I am so upset. Somebody who doesn't even have the courage to say his or her real name wrote horrible things about me and then pushed it out on social media. I don't know what to do. I feel like I should correct the many errors that were spewed about me and defend myself. But then part of me feels like I don't want to stoop to that person's level. It was so hateful and mean. But now these awful things about me are out there in the universe. What should I do? -- Defamed, Detroit

DEAR DEFAMED: Social media draws out the cowards in our society specifically because you can be anonymous when you post things. As hard as it may be right now, it is best for you to leave this alone. Do not respond.

You can reach the social media provider to let it know that this person defamed you. On some occasions the host will remove malicious or libelous content.