Anger Management

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Dear Dharma,

I have a problem and I need your help.

My wife came to pick me up at work one day and on the same day I decided to give a ride home to my female co-worker.  My co-worker was talking and I was listening as we were driving to her house – of course, my wife was not ignored at all.

Anyway, after my co-worker left, my wife showed me her anger.  She slapped my arm a few times and started screaming at me.  She said that we were both flirting.  I do not know what “flirting” is, therefore I did not know why she was mad at me.

What is flirting?

Also, do you think my wife is a crazy woman?

Perrier

Dear Perrier,

Your first question is easy to answer – the definition of flirting from the Merriam-Webster dictionary is:

: to behave in a way that shows a sexual attraction for someone but is not meant to be taken seriously

: to think about something or become involved in something in a way that is usually not very serious

So based on this definition, if this is how your wife interpreted your behaviour, you might have an easier time understanding her anger – wives don’t do well if they think their husbands are sexually attracted to another woman.  The section that works in your favour is the whole “not meant to be taken seriously” part.

Based on what I am reading in your question, it really doesn’t even sound like there was any banter at all.  She was talking, you were listening, then have a good night, see you tomorrow.  But since I wasn’t there, I don’t know if your body language was saying something different.  If you were laughing all enchanted, touching her arm, tossing your hair (oh wait, that’s my move!), any of those actions could certainly be construed as flirtatious.

I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say that you weren’t doing any of those things.

Another possibility is that your co-worker actually was flirting with you and your wife picked up on it while you didn’t.  I’ve seen this happen on more than one occasion, and am constantly amazed when men are so oblivious to what seems so obvious.

In either case, your second question is not as easy.  Do I think your wife is a crazy woman?  Well, it depends, and it really is something for you to assess.  Think about your overall relationship with your wife – was this a one off incident, or does she have a history of unwarranted jealously and angry outbursts?

If it was an unusual occurrence, I would say leave it alone – chalk it up to a bad day and move past it.

However, if there is a pattern of similar behaviours, then it seems your actions, innocent as they may be, trigger her insecurities and this is something that needs to be addressed.  If you are unable to start a discussion with her on your own, you may want to consider couples counselling.  If she isn’t open to that, I would suggest you go on your own – it could help you if this is an ongoing problem.

Dharma

1 Comment

  • Suzanne says:

    I think there is something else bothering your wife. If this is so unusual then there is something deeper going on maybe. I would talk to her calmly and make sure she is okay and let her know that there are no feelings at all towards this woman.

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