The results are in: people think she’s a nut job!

Remember the reader who was asking if he was a liar or overly sensitive? He would tell his wife something and she, in turn, would say he didn’t tell her. He asked for help and I asked the readers to weigh in. Read the original post in its entirety here:

I received the most responses through emails and twitters instead of Facebook. Here is the final result: 8% thought she may be having a medication that is making her forgetful but the other 92% thought she was a nut job and was “gaslighting” him.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory, perception, and sanity. The term “gaslighting” comes from the play Gas Light and its film adaptations in which a husband secretly dims the gas lights in the house and when his wife remarks on it, he claims that she is mistaken. This is done to convince the woman that she cannot trust her own judgment and so will not be believed if she tries to report other strange things that are genuinely occurring. The term is now also used in clinical and research literature.

Now, my answer to him: you knew her well before getting married. You acknowledged that she used to behave this way when you were dating and you still thought she was good enough to be your bride. You say you still love her; and if you still do, I don’t think divorcing her is the right thing to do. Not every marriage needs to end up in divorce. Some marriages are destructive and dangerous; but in your case, that doesn’t apply. I think your wife has a very bad and annoying behavior; but if everything about her is good, then there is a way that you can cut her bad behavior by modifying yours. You have no control over her behavior. However, you do have control over yours.

This is what you are going to do: instead of taking notes privately, you are going to do it in her face but “gently.” Buy one of those square calendars with pictures in it and put it in a place where you both can look at it every day. When having a conversation that you deem important, tell her that because “your” memory seems to be faulty, you will make a little note of your conversation.  By placing the blame on yourself, you’ll ensure that she won’t become defensive about it. When you’re out having an important conversation, mention that you better make a note of it so you won’t forget about it. It will be annoying in the beginning for you; but once she slips and says, “You didn’t tell me that,” you can gently tell her, “I need to check the calendar and see my notes. You may be right.” Then once you show her that she was the wrong one, she will start behaving better because she will know that she can no longer use that excuse.

It will take a few times, but she will correct her behavior. I know this for sure because I, myself, have used this technique with a friend that I loved and adored but didn’t want to lose the friendship. I know of others who have done it very successfully as well. It’s tiring in the beginning, but you will see results after a few times. Once the person sees that he/she is going to be called out, they will change their behaviors. Otherwise, they are going to be considered the nutty ones, and people don’t like to look bad in front of others who are supposed to love them. Now, if that’s the only complaint you have about your wife, then you’re lucky. There are worse things to worry about. It’s all about your level of tolerance; but I still think this is not something to get a divorce over. Good luck with that.

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