DEAR HARRIETTE: I am tired of arguing with my husband about every little thing.
I began to notice that just about every conversation that we have is an argument. If I say something, he almost always challenges me.
I don’t like waking up to arguments. Because we are still working from home, I am seeing a pattern that I don’t like. I started paying closer attention and noticed that just about every time he speaks to me, it is judgmental, negative or dismissive.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided that I would stop talking to him. That’s what I have done.
For the most part, I say virtually nothing to him. I keep my distance. I say good morning when I see him. I pass by him without talking. I say “excuse me” if I need him to move. Rarely do I say anything else.
That has brought me much less negativity, but it’s super-awkward, and I think it’s hard on my daughter being in the middle of what may seem like a standoff — one I doubt my husband even sees.
I have asked my husband to go to counseling in the past, and he has refused. Should I ask him again? I worry that it will cause a fight.
DEAR STANDOFF: The existence that you and your husband are living right now is not healthy — as you know — and it is not sustainable over time. It is not healthy for you or your daughter. So, yes, you need to say something to your husband.
Ideally, you should talk when your daughter is not around. Ask him if he has noticed your silence. Do know that he could be oblivious. Either way, tell him that you made the decision to stop talking to him because he is so consistently unkind to you.
Tell him that you do not want to live like this and that you believe you two need help. Ask him once again to go to counseling with you.
If he refuses, schedule counseling for yourself anyway. You need professional help in standing up for yourself and making healthier choices about how to live.
Eventually, you two will need to address the ways you interact if you are to preserve your marriage. Marriage should not feel like a prison sentence. It should be infused with joy.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been married for about five years now. I have always kept a separate savings account with what my mother used to call “mad money” that I could use for shopping or anything I want.
My husband lost his job a few months ago, and I am tempted to use that money to pay bills. But I worry that now this money is the only savings we really have. I think I should pretend like I don’t have it at all unless we find ourselves in dire circumstances.
I have been able to add some hours at work, and my husband is looking for another job. Do you think I should use my savings for groceries?
DEAR MAD MONEY: If you are able to ignore that small pot of money right now and live off of the resources you are bringing in, do that.
Now is a time of struggle for your family. The struggle will not likely ease significantly if you empty the one stash of cash that you have. I do think you should consider it differently, as an emergency fund rather than a “fun” fund.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.