Lawyer Is A Master Relationship Manipulator

by - 5:18 PM

The next emailer is the epitome of attempted manipulation in an effort to make himself shine.  Can you detect how?


Dear Dr. Gilda, 
I am a tax attorney, and last year, I remember thinking that it was the summer of my deceased mother-in-law.  I had taken on the thankless job of working on her estate until it was settled that summer. The problems were ongoing, and I forever had to remain on top of everything for which I was not being paid.  I reasoned that I was doing this for my wife of ten years.
After the paperwork was completed, although my wife did say thank you, it seemed that she accepted all I did as a matter of course, similar to my taking out the garbage.  This summer, a similar thing happened.  This time it became the summer of my stepdaughter, a college student.  She did not do so well in one of her courses, and I took it upon myself to tutor her so she could have a second chance at a final exam. In return for my kindness, yes, she did thank me, but she also criticized my tutoring more than once, and often put her boyfriend before her schoolwork and studying.
My wife and I have had a rocky relationship since we were married. During a recent heated argument, I lost my temper and screamed that I would not celebrate her birthday, and I would also not take her on our usual summer vacation.  So now my wife has spitefully decided to go on vacation with her daughter, leaving me in the lurch.  


Dear Robert, 
Is there a question somewhere embedded in your marital complaint? It appears that you want to be paid, thanked and loved to compensate for your rocky marriage.  This is called “conditional giving,” and it goes against everything I stand for, teach, and write.  If things you did for this family in the past had gone unappreciated, why do you continue doing more?
Did you undertake your actions so you could keep reminding them of your supposed benevolence? You say you were thanked by both your wife and her daughter, but you didn’t like the way they thanked you. That seems awfully controlling.
What exactly did you want them to do?  In essence, no matter how anyone thanks you, it will never compensate for the fact that your marriage is in trouble and it needs either to be repaired or discarded.  You say this discord has continued for 10 miserable years.  Why would you prefer to browbeat this family instead of taking a stand to either stay, and make the relationship better, or leave in a dignified manner?
To be blunt, you stay there as a tormentor because your own self-esteem is shaky, and you need to overpower others to feel better about yourself.  Undoubtedly, your wife has shaky self-esteem, too, because she has also been willing to put up with this dance you’re both doing.
Appreciation must be earned through respectful communication devoid of screams and threats.  Your nasty words are bullying tactics that cannot be withdrawn after they’re issued. Obviously, you raged at your wife one too many times, and she finally called your bluff.  Actually, this may be a sign that she’s about to take a stand regarding the way things have been.  I’m proud of her for taking care of herself, and providing the vacation that you threatened to withhold.  Who do you think you are to punish an adult that way?  No healthy grownup would allow herself to be tormented that way.  At least one party in your marriage is becoming healthier.
When you learn the nature of unconditional giving you’ll find how much more you can get in return, without having to growl, scowl, or intimidate. You’re apparently well versed in tax law. Now it’s time to do some graduate work in the law of reciprocity.
Dr. Gilda

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