Yes, I know the title is bizarre and I can't believe I'm actually writing this. My wife is a neat freak. Always has been. She throws notes on my desk out assuming they're garbage, my belongings get rearranged to the point where it takes me hours to find them, it's something I've come to accept. I'm not happy about it, but we have a pretty happy marriage on the whole.
I am a volunteer EMT, and I keep my boots unlaced up against the wall next to my clothes hamper so that I can throw them on along with my uniform if a call comes in during the middle of the night. Well, my wife has taken to tying the boot laces when she sees them untied. Not only does she tie them, but she tightens them and double knots them to the point where I need to undo the knot, open up the boots, and let a little slack out to fit my feet into them. I ignored it the first two times, but the third time she did it, I made it a point to bring up to her the next day.
I very calmly said, “Hun, I appreciate that you want everything neat, but please do not touch my boots in the future. Time is of the essence when I'm going on a call and at 2 in the morning I don't have the time to unlace them and open them up. It's not just a minor inconvenience, it's people's lives, so I would appreciate it if you left them alone.”
She rolled her eyes, said I was being dramatic, and that she wouldn't help me out by keeping my things neat in the future.
Well she never stopped. No matter how many times I've asked her, told her, begged her; she just laughs and says, “Well you know how I am!”
The other night a page went out for a CPR in progress. I went to throw my boots on and they were, once again, tightened beyond recognition. So I'm sitting there on the edge of the bed, cursing, trying to get my boots open, and fumbling due to the stress of the situation.
My wife opened her eyes, groggily looked at me, and asked, “Don't you need to go on that call?”
I know I was in the wrong here, and I regret it. I slammed the boot into the ground and yelled, “Yes! I do! I would have been out the door five minutes ago, except SOME STUPID MOTHERFUCKER FUCKED WITH MY GODDAMN BOOTS AGAIN!”
My wife got up without another word, walked into the bathroom and slammed the door. I got my boots open and went on the call. By the time we arrived, the police had gotten her back, so I didn't have to do CPR, but I was sweating and shaking thinking my delay could have cost a life.
I got home and my wife wasn't talking to me. She ignored me the entire day until we finally sat down and talked. She said I had scared her with how angry I got, that she thought I was going to hit her, and she didn't know I was capable of getting so angry. Note: I have never raised a hand to her, nor have I ever yelled at her before; I am absolutely not a violent person in any way shape or form.
I apologized for yelling at her, and acknowledged that I hadn't meant to snap at her, I was frustrated with the situation as I needed to get to the person in need of CPR as soon as possible and it was a delay that didn't need to happen. I, once again, pleaded with her not to touch my boots because lives were literally on the line.
She told me that if I was going to overreact and make her afraid then she would never touch my boots again because she didn't want to live like that.
Last night, before I got into bed, I had a sinking feeling, so I went over and checked my boots. I was very disappointed to find them tightened up again. So I decided to show her how it felt. I went over to her closet and pulled out her running shoes. I unlaced the shoelaces on both of them, removed them from the shoes completely, curled them each into a little coil, put them inside the shoes, and put them back. I then went to sleep.
At 6: 15 I was woken up by my wife screaming, “How could you!? Why would you do this?” holding up both laceless shoes with tears in her eyes. My wife likes to go for an early morning run and I knew she would want to get out the door as soon as possible.
I smiled and said, “You know how I am! I just like things neat!” She continued sobbing and walked out of the room. So, by the time she was all laced up again, it was raining so she missed out on her run. I actually feel pretty terrible about that because I really only wanted to delay her, not ruin her plans completely.
At this point, she's alternating between crying that I went out of my way to hurt her and ignoring my presence. I acknowledge that what I've done has been pretty childish and not at all constructive. I just don't know what to do.
She said, through tears, “You admitted you were totally in the wrong for yelling at me, and then you turned around and took it out on me in a different way! What is wrong with you?”
The problem is, to her, an apology means taking on 100% of the fault. When I apologized for blowing up, she took that to mean she was 100% in the right and that my feelings were completely unjustified. So at this point, I haven't apologized for ruining her run, because she'll take that to mean that she wasn't wrong to touch my boots.
I've tried to have these discussions but it's in one ear and out the other. We have such a good relationship otherwise, but I feel like this issue has reached a tipping point and it's going to continue to result in arguments until we resolve it.
How do I make things right with my wife while still letting her know that I won't tolerate her disrespecting my property anymore?
tl;dr Wife keeps tightening my boots when I'm not wearing them, delaying me on ambulance calls. I finally had enough, and she's calling my response abuse.