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Marriage/Marriage is Failing


QUESTION: Hello.  My husband and I have been having problems.....usually we argue the week I am PMS-ing and we get over it, but this isn't that time and we just can't get past this one re-curring theme: he thinks I overreact to situations and that I'm over-emotional, and I think he is insensitive towards my feelings.  The incident tonight was that over the last couple of weeks he's asked me to make more of an effort when it comes to showing up for his work things/events/dinners. We had a date night (just the two of us)scheduled for tonight.  He worked earlier in the day and called me from the car while he was riding with his boss.  They suggested a place where we could ALL go out for dinner.  My husband texts me and asks if I'd like to go.  His text prompted me to think that it was one of those occasions where I "need to make more of an effort with work stuff" seeing as though it was date night otherwise.  So, I really wasn't ready to go anywhere b/c I had just finished cleaning the house.  When I texted him that he said "no worries".  But I was worried.  I didn't want that to reflect badly on him to his boss, etc.  He kept texting me to reassure me it was no big deal, but it kind of stressed me out.  I asked him about it later on....kind of grilling him on the details of his conversation with his boss in order to reassure myself that his boss wasn't really mad.  I felt like I needed to do that b/c all he was telling me was "don't worry about it. It's fine". He got really frustrated with me over the extra questioning and basically said that I totally over-reacted, I'm way too emotional and he can't deal with it. Once he said that to me I just lost it starting to cry.  It makes me CRAZY when he dismisses my feelings.  He knows that, too.  He always promises he won't do it again but then something else comes up and he's like "well what about MY feelings?".  This is such a major hurdle and we have yet to clear it....and it's been years.  Do you have any advice??

ANSWER: Hello Jill - it sounds like you have several concurrent problems:

1] one or both of you may lack empathy for the other in some situations. If so, you can improve this:

2) you two "argue" over values conflicts instead of doing empathic listening and win-win problem-solving as partners

3] You may distrust your husband at times if he says "No problem," and he becomes frustrated with your anxiety and questioning him further. The opposite possibility is he isn't honest with you about certain feelings and won't admit that, which causes your distrust. Significant distrust and withholding are both symptoms of inherited psychological wounds, which are the most common causes of marital stress:

If either of you is a "Grown Wounded Child," study and discuss this free online Lesson:

This is a LOT to absorb and discuss, so take your time. If you have questions about any of this, please ask - Pete

[an error occurred while processing this directive]---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I'm unclear about the reference of my possible distrust when my husband says "No problem".  Also, the reference about him not being "honest with me about certain feelings".  Can you please elaborate?  I'm a really literal person- so the more clarity the better....thank you so much!!

My impression from what you wrote is when your husband said your decision not to social oize was "no problem" you didn't trust that he meant that. If true, that may occur becausae at times he doesn't honestly disclose some feelings and needs to you. I may be wrong.


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Peter Gerlach, MSW


I can answer questions about choosing a mate wisely, marital communications and problem solving, affairs, same-gender relationships, trust, respect, bonding and intimicy, values differences, boundary problems, grieving, dealing with ex mates, parents, and in-laws, remarriage, separation, divorce, abuse, feeling unloved, codependence, psychological wounds, money disputes, balancing kids, careers, and marital primacy, etc. I cannot answer legal or medical questions


I've been a professional family-systems therapist in private practice for 33 years. I have specialized in helping people avoid and adapt to divorce, and manage remarriage ans stepfamilies, since 1979. I've studied and taught classes in interpersonal communication for over 40 years, and have presented over 200 seminars on a wide range of human-relationswhip topics to Chicago-area churches, schools, menyal-health agencies, and businesses, and have been featured on Chicago and national radio and TV. I have been married and divorced. I now believe all marital and family problems are caused by five little-known factors - see This forms the basis of my work as therapist and educator.

I now answer "" questions on stepparenting, communication, and counseling. I belong to ", "Death with Dignity," "Compassion and Choices," and to the online Adverse Childhood Experience Study (ACES) at

I've published over 200 free Internet articles on childhood-trauma recovery and wholistic health, communication skills, healthy grieving, human relationships (including marriage and divorce), family health, effective parenting, and managing a stepfamily). These articles are in the form of seven free self-improvement lessons ( These articles are augmented by 168 YouTube videos ("gercacn" channel); I've published a book on childhood-trauma recovery ("Who's *REALLY Running Your Life?"), and other books on interpersonal communicactioin skills ("Satisfactions"), remarriage ("The Remarriage Book"), "Stepfamily Courtship", and "Stepfamily Co-parenting" All published by

Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering (BSME) from Stanford University (1959); Masters degree in Social Work (MSW) from George Williams college (1981); hundreds of hours of post-grad trainng from Northwestern U. the University of Chicago, et. al. in a wide range of human-relationship topics.

Awards and Honors
The state of Illinois licensed me to practice clinical social work in 1981. I was selected twice to serve on the board of the Stepfamily Association of America (SAA), and am currently on the Stepfamily-expert panel at Auburn University; I was the Board chairman at a major public mental-health agency in suburban chicago, and was the chairman of the Parent Relations Council for a major suburban High School. I currently have over 500 subscibers on YouTube since I began uploading educational videos in May, 2011.

Past/Present Clients
I've worked with over 1,000 men; women; dating, merried, remarried, divorcing, and redivorcing couples; and whole families. I'm currently 74, semi-retired, and disabled, and I do therapy with people and couples by phone and Internet (Skype).

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