How do I tell my husband about his annoying habit?
A bit of background: My husband and I have been together for over 20 years. We have two school-age children. We get on well, but there is no passion in our relationship (but that is not a great issue for me at the moment). We are comfortable discussing anything, except our own relationship!
This is my problem: Over the past year or so, my husband has developed a slight speech impediment that didn't used to be there. He kind of whistles or makes a 'sh' sound when pronouncing words with a 'ss' sound in them. I am not sure of the cause of this, but I'm sure he could fix it as he never used to do it. Anyway, this may be a fault in myself, but I'm finding it extremely irritating and it makes me secretly very tense when talking to him, especially when face to face.
I have a BIG problem bringing this up with him, so it has been festering. The reason I can't bring it up is because he already views me as overly critical (which I probably am a bit) and he does not take criticism well at all. On the very rare occasion that I've brought something up in the past, he usually counters with some random criticisms of me and then always sulks for hours/days and won't speak to me. I am made to feel like the bad person and am accused of being critical or intolerant. Then he usually does nothing to change his behaviour that I can see and it will rarely be discussed again.
I am not good at bringing up contentious issues due to social awkwardness in general, my poor delivery and the fact I am expecting a poor reaction. It is a vicious cycle because the longer I let it fester, the worse I feel and the more of a big deal it is to me. On a couple of occasions in my life this has led to a verbal explosion and obviously that is the absolute least sensitive way to deal with something!
Any suggestions how to bring this up (without it ending in a row/sulk) so that it will actually result in positive action/resolution.
Alternatively, I am a bad person for feeling so irritated in the first place? If so, what should I do about it?
Any advice much appreciated, thank you!
It sounds like he is stammering, this sounds like a stress issue on his part or he could have a physical issue. A check up is due on his part. Also not having a physical relationship in a marriage is not a good sign. You need to talk about this in a calm and loving way. You are stressed maybe because of a lack of comfort and tenderness in the marriage.
When is the last time he went to the dentist? This could be a simple whistle from missing teeth.
Thank you both so much for your replies. Yes, he does have some stress issues/habits e.g. he chews holes in his t-shirts and makes sort of clicking noises with his tongue (which I have brought up in the past to no avail). He tends to do the chewing when he's working. He works very hard and and is brilliant at what he does. I'm not sure if it's stress, or just something he does when he's concentrating hard. I have asked him to go to the doctor about the tongue clicking habit, but he dismissed it as pointless i.e. couldn't see it as a medical issue. We are both extremely busy as we are running a business together and bringing up a family. We work most evenings.
We do have a physical relationship ocassionally, but it's not spontaneous or very adventurous! I really blame myself for this as I'm just not that into it. He has never, ever, instigated anything physical. I do not believe this is because he doesn't want to, I think it is because he is scared of rejection, so he leaves it up to me.
In response to the dentist - there are definitely no teeth missing but you could be right as he has not been for years. He doesn't mind going so I think he just got out of the habit somehow or forgot. So I could ask him if I can make him an appointment. That might be a good way to subtly mention the whistling/diction issues?
I straight away thought it might be a dental issue as well. I had a tooth out and started the whistling thing - thankfully it went away once I got used to not having the tooth. Although if he hasn't lost any teeth it may not be that. I think definitely that the place to start though, with a dental check up. Are you able to suggest that to him or will it also lead to sulking etc?
Mt ex husband was like this (not talking about issues) and it got worse and worse and I ended up walking on eggshells all the time. this lead to me bottling things up and having occasional verbal explosions like you have described.
This is not healthy in a relationship. Communication is key. without that things will just get worse in my experience. I think you will have to find a way to be able to address issues with him. It is so difficult I know. Could you maybe start by making it clear that its not a criticism or a blame thing or anything like that and that you are on his side?
What was his childhood like? did he have one or both very critical overbearing parents? this could explain his defensiveness.
Thank you Supersarah for your kind reply.
I have asked my husband why he hasn't been to the dentist for so long and he says he just forgot. So I asked if I could register him at my dentist and make him an appointment and he agreed. I said, I think you should get your teeth checked because you're sometimes making a sort of whistling noise with 's' sounds. He said something like, "but I've always done that", to which I replied that he hadn't. Anyway, he allowed it without much discussion! The appointment is next week, so we'll see where that goes.
Regarding childhood issues, I don't think his parents were/are particularly critical or overbearing. He's kind of the golden boy! He did have some medical issues as a small child (nothing to do with mouth or speech) but apparently has remarkably few memories of early childhood.
I'll post updates. Thank you everyone.