She talks to me like I’m her student

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Dear Meredith,

My wife, "B", is a principal in an elementary school, and although I admire her work deeply, it is beginning to affect my home life. She used to be easygoing and relaxed around the house when she was just teaching. Now that she's a principal, I feel like we're on the verge of making the extra bedroom a detention hall!

Most recently I was scolded for knocking a glass over and spilling milk (what a metaphor!). While it was an annoying situation, I totally felt like she viewed me as one of her students. I know everyone has trouble with flipping the switch from work mode to home mode, but this is starting to affect our relationship. What's the best way to have this conversation with my wife? Thanks!

– student husband


I'd leave her work out of the conversation.

You don’t know what she's like as a principal or manager. Focus on yourself and how you want to be treated. As in, "Hey, sometimes when you talk to me about your needs or mistakes I've made, I feel scolded. Patronized and punished. That’s probably not your intention. Is there a better way for us to communicate?" Focus on your feelings.

Maybe she'll bring up the work stuff herself, but if not, find out what she thinks about her tone and whether she has her own thoughts about why she gets into that mode.

I think that if you tell her she's not flipping the switch, you're diagnosing something in a way that might frustrate her – and you might be very wrong. Maybe she's snippy at home because her demeanor is the opposite at work. Maybe this is more about job stress than principal behavior.

All you know is how you respond, so focus on that and then ask to figure this out together.

– Meredith

Readers? What would you do?