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Includes Expert Content
Strange way of observing and talking…
mplates posted:
My h has a habit of talking to me but in third person. For example, Marie is the kind of person who … and my name is Marie. It seems strange to me to address someone this way. Also he usually addresses me as you guys or we when he is specifically just talking about me.
This may seem petty and there are far greater problems that we face. But I really would like to know what is behind this type of communication pattern. Sometimes he will have a running commentary about what I am doing. At these times he will say that he is talking to himself out loud. An example of this would be, as I am cleaning around the house. He will stand by and say "now she is dusting before she vacuums. Why doesn't she vacuum and then dust?"
I guess between his other behavior patterns (controlling and lacking in empathy) and his style of communicating, I am concerned that he is detached from the situation and me.
Any thoughts? Am I just being overly sensitive?
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD responded:
I don't think you are being overly sensitive.

How long has this been going on? Does he act in other unusual ways? You mention that you are concerned that he is detached -- do you see this in particular ways? Does he seem particularly anxious or depressed? Does he act in unusual ways around other people? Does he have any history of emotional/psychological problems?

You say he is controlling -- in what ways? Also, what do you mean when you say he lacks empathy?

You also mention that the two of you "have far greater problems" than this -- are these in any way related to unusual behaviors on his part, or could they be putting him under tremendous stress?

If it is too much to answer these questions here, basically think about if you are concerned enough to have him see a therapist to assess him.
mplates replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
He is not particularly anxious or depressed but is generally focused on the negative things in life. I have noticed that critical assessment is highly valued in his family of origin. After each significant family event, there will be 70% of time focused on what went wrong, who was lacking than how much they enjoyed the wedding, graduation or church service. I realize this is just from my perspective though the grand children will often ask my h's parents, you didn't like it? And the grandparents will reassure that they did enjoy the grands' events.
By controlling I mean that everyone's behavior or way of doing things is judged against his way of doing things. And he will ask others to justify their way to him. It can be as serious a parenting or as small as how much dishwashing liquid was poured into the sink. The serious and small are my points of view as he has said everything is important to him in this regard. To clarify so I could understand him, I asked a hypothetical question, would you be as upset with a child and give the same level of consequence if they failed to clean their room as if they were caught drunk driving? His answer was an emphatic yes. There is no difference to him. That floored me, I can't comprehend that.
By lack of empathy, he does not offer comfort by word or touch if I am seriously ill or emotionally drained. I have seen this behavior with his family also. Nothing comes before "getting a person right". I had a serious reaction to a prescribed drug and was going daily to the doctor's office for them to monitor me and do blood work. I had been out of work, weak and feverish from the reaction. He called his Mom on phone and had her to back him on the argument. It really broke me down and she backed him up. I have no problem if that is her belief and view but what about doing that us against you as a family and while both of them knew I was ill. I was sobbing on the phone with her and he was just standing there. Both of them knew I was seriously ill but took the 2- to 25 minutes to discuss and challenge me. I briefly spoke and stated my perspective which did not mirror theirs. Then he went to his computer and she got off the phone. It was never spoken of again. Neither of them even asked in the days that followed if I was better or about my medical results. When I tried to bring it up once (around 2 weeks later) he said you focus on the wrong things. When I asked why he did not even ask about my health, he was just silent and then said , well, you eventually went back to work.
My focus now is on finding a therapist and putting myself first in terms of my well being versus this never satisfied dance with my husband taking priority over all things in my life.
dfromspencer responded:
Wow! I read this, Dr. Becker-Phelps reply, and your reponse to her. Again, WOW! Your husband seems very self centered, and dead emotionally? Has he always talked that way, or has this started more recently? I'm sorry, but from what you have descibed, your husband may be mentally unstabil? Perhaps stress from work, and family has caused him to act this way? I don't know, but it sounds like he could use some help?

Why wouldn't you dust first? The dust you knock down, will eventually land on the floor, therefore, you need to dust first.

Also, if your husband has a controll problem, then he really does need help. And NO, you are not being overly sensitive! You are reaching out for help, and you need to get some. I hope this all turns out well for you, Dennis
tmlmtlrl replied to dfromspencer's response:
I agree with what's been said by the others about your husband.

I know the answer to the dust question though. Back in the day vacuum cleaners would kick up a lot of dust so people would vacuum first. Now a days vacuum cleaners are much more efficient and don't throw dust around.

So that's where people get the idea about vacuuming first. Sorry, this is petty compared to the matter at hand, but since it got brought up again I thought I'd put it out there.

OP, good luck to you.
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to mplates's response:
Again, you are not being overly sensitive. And, I am really glad to hear that you are looking for a therapist for yourself. It sounds like you could use some help for yourself in this extremely difficult situation.

It also sounds like he is not at all distressed (or doesn't show it) by his way of seeing and reacting to things. If you decide that you want to work on improving your marriage, you might want to find a couple therapist.

If there is more you'd like here in terms of support or having a sounding board, please let us know.

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