Ask Amy: ‘Barking’ episodes make accomplice flee
Our children are adults now and they are fine.
Mara and I recently reunited. We’re deeply in love and pretty compatible, but I have an unusual problem.
She has periods when she “barks” (as she puts it). It is uncomfortable and argumentative to the point where communication is broken.
The thing is, it seems to be operating from a place of anger. I’m not. She becomes defensive and illogical when I ask if something is bothering her.
After our “time out” she often apologizes, but offers no explanation. I’m not really pushing the thing.
Due to the pandemic, we’re still coordinated around the clock.
A couple of solo car trips help, but with the increasing frequency of the “barking” and the subsequent recovery period for them (uncomfortable time for me), I’m starting to worry.
While this isn’t the only trigger, she has a tendency to “bark” when I have a drink after work or on the weekend.
However, she is a social drinker herself.
I don’t know anything in her history about substance abuse and I asked her about this particular point, but I’m not getting anything back. It is confusing. Do you have any theories
– Barked, not bitten
Bark, don’t bite: Running away is a natural reaction to loud “barking”. You choose “Escape” over “Fight,” and while that may be the smartest choice right now, you and “Mara” are not preoccupied with their behavior – or what might be causing it.
Because you mention your drinking as a trigger, you could start there. Do you act differently after you have had a drink? Are you getting loud, sarcastic, or sleepy? Did she have another partner (or parent) who had a drinking problem? Could her own alcohol use trigger her anger? You both should talk about your mutual alcohol consumption.
Is She Going Through Menopause? This monumental hormonal shift can lead to extreme behavioral changes. She should see her doctor. Is she signaling her stress before an outbreak? If so, maybe she – and not you – could take a solo ride to cool off.
I recommend the book “10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage” by marriage researchers John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman (2007, Harmony). Read it together. Quick Lessons From This Important Book: Treat Your Partner As A Friend. (Gently!) Don’t put your problems aside. Talk about your feelings.
Try to look beyond their anger (for now) and grasp their longing. What does she want? What do you want?
Dear Amy, I hate my husband of 21 years. I don’t want to be married to him anymore, but I’m afraid of the future if I leave.
I am 56 years old, don’t earn a lot of money and I don’t have a lot of retirement savings. My three children are all over 18 years old (two still live at home).
I’m also afraid that if I don’t go, I will never be the real me and live in peace.
What should I do? Should I stay for financial reasons or leave hoping to be happy?
Unhappy: If you hate your husband and have no hope of reconciling the relationship, leave.
You don’t seem to have done any research into how divorce would affect your financial situation. You should research the laws in your state and speak to an attorney. If you split your marital wealth, you might get a small nest egg.
You should also consider the impact of divorce on your other relationships in preparation for emotional instability.
Before you retire, you have at least 10 years of earning capacity Your financial planning should include a realistic budget for a reduced life.
Dear Amy, Thank you so much for promoting the concept of “radical acceptance” in response to the question posed by “Secret Mean Girl” who moved home during the pandemic and was extremely critical of the obesity and unhealthy choices of her family members.
Radically Accepted: I’ve given “Secret Mean Girl” a lot of credit for admitting her own unhealthy thought patterns.
2021 by Amy Dickinson, distributed by Tribune Content Agency