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He never compromises

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  August 22, 2011 08:03 AM

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At your request, I added some more "One Day" entries to Thursday's contest update. There were hundreds, so I picked a few more and put them at the bottom for pleasure reading.


Q: Here's the background: We're both in our early 30s, have been together about 2 years, lived together about 1, and up until recently things have been wonderful. We laugh together, we have similar interests, we take care of each other, we love each other very much, and he's good to me. We've talked casually about marriage but neither of us is in a big rush. We want to make sure it's right. I should also mention that he is my longest relationship to date. And now I'm glad that we didn't dive into matrimony.

He's strong-willed and opinionated, and it's something I've known since day one. In a way, I've liked it because I'm the exact opposite and I think he's taught me how to stand up for myself more. But as I'm learning to fight more for what I want, I'm also now learning that he's not willing to budge an inch when our opinions differ. Some of it is no-big-deal "men are from Mars" things like leaving the toilet seat up, and others are somewhat-big-deal things like the physical intimacy is always on his terms. (If he's tired, forget it. If I'm tired, I get coerced into it.) There are also a lot of -- "It really stresses me out and upsets me when you do XYZ. Can you please try not to do it?" -- moments.

Regardless of the issue, it's always the same outcome. He insists that the offense isn't a big deal and shouldn't upset me. Or when I tell him I'm bothered he gives me the eye roll, a big huffy exhale, and "Honey ..."

I've tried to explain that though he can easily control his actions it's much harder for me to control what upsets me or doesn't. But in his eyes, I'm asking him to believe that his actions are bad/need changing, and not asking him to just not do something that upsets me, stupid or not. So he resists wholeheartedly.

Each individual instance is yawn-worthy, but collectively it's wearing on me and our relationship, and now the smallest things set me off. I've been thinking hard about ending things, since talking it out never seems to get me anywhere, but I can't shake the feeling that he really is "Mr. Right" and we just need to keep working through it until we figure out how to fight productively. I also wonder if I really AM over-reacting and if I should chill out and cut him some slack. Am I the one who needs a talking to? Or am in denial that we're a wrong fit? Help!

– No Give and Take, Boston


A: You're not overreacting, NGAT. You've evolved into a more assertive, self-confident person. That's a good thing. But it's not always easy for an alpha to take orders from a beta. And it's not always easy for a beta to get the hang of being assertive without being a nag.

My advice is to come up with a code word that should be used to let him know that a specific decision means a lot to you. He can use it, too. Maybe the code word is "meatballs." Whenever he rolls his eyes at your need to influence a decision, you can say, "Meatballs!" and he'll know that your opinion means more to you than he might think. The code word should work both ways. Meaning, if you ask him for sex and he looks at you and says "meatballs," he's really too tired for it.

If you find yourselves screaming about meatballs all of the time, you might have an unfixable problem. But these safe words should make things better. You should be asking yourselves, "Am I really annoyed enough to yell "meatballs" or can I compromise?"

Have another talk. Pick a word (it doesn't have to be "meatballs") and see how it goes. He fell in love with a more passive you. I don't know if he's capable of loving someone who's more assertive, but let's do what we can to help him along before we walk out the door. And as for you, if you're yelling "meatballs" 40 times a day, you might want to consider whether you might be asking for too much. Meatballs are for emergencies.

Readers? Hope here? How can he evolve with her? Should he have to? Is she the one being the picky alpha? Into the safe word idea? Meatballs!

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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