NEW YORK: Q: My wife is very irritated at me lately. She feels I don't respect that she has a career too. This is such BS; I respect her implicitly and love that she's tenacious at work. Recently, our pre-teenaged son has been acting out in school by insulting girls in his class. I know she blames me for his behavior. I'd love for someone to help shed light on how that's my fault. Thanks.
A: Life lessons are frequently learned in real time. The learning is only unearthed because of an issue that suddenly surfaces.
So when the focus is placed on such irrelevant things as blame, the lesson is rendered useless. The experience goes unrecognized and this results in a failure to grasp what's really significant in the equation.
You may greatly respect your wife, but do you show her? She is obviously reacting to something.
It's altogether possible her irritation is caused by work. However, be mindful of your role in her life.
It's impossible for anyone to completely observe their own behavior accurately. When you say, "this is such BS," you aren't taking into account what she's experiencing. Reacting angrily isn't constructive nor does it solve anything.
Let's talk about your pre-teen son. Don't assign fault to anyone regarding his behavior at school. This type of bullying is often present in boys his age, but that's hardly an excuse. He could be crying out for attention at home or imitating the two of you.
A shared conversation explaining acceptable behavior would be beneficial for everyone. Therefore, you're both taking responsibility for wanting your son's behavior to improve.
Ask him why he's insulting these girls. He needs to know what's expected of him as he grows into a teenager. Perhaps from Dad, he needs to hear that mistreating girls isn't what fellow "guys" respect or deem as cool or manly.
Another possibility to consider is that you are in fact being brusque or "seemingly" rude to his mother in front of him. This might be your communication style with one another. Parental communications are so commonly misread by children. He may be mirroring an attitude he thinks you hold.
Your son has provided you with an opportunity to look at your marriage. Have you fallen into unhealthy patterns that don't allow you to see what she's going through? If your answer is yes, make a concerted effort to reconnect; this will result in her feeling respected.
I think it is important to do this in front of your boy. Remember he takes his cues from you.
As always, please send questions and comments to ASK NOAH at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a profitable and peaceful week,
This post originally appeared on The Street.