Originally Published: July 7, 2016 5:55 a.m.
Dear Annie: I’m a loud talker, apparently. I still don’t believe I’m that loud, but I recently moved to a new city and started a new job, and the issue keeps coming up. My landlord has called me twice to yell at me about how others in my building sent her noise complaints. I wasn’t having a party or anything. I had one friend over the first time, and the second time I was just talking on the phone. I was taken aback. The landlord really intimidated me, making threats about eviction. (She’s not the most reasonable person.)
“OK,” I figured, “my neighbors are a little high-strung.” But then last week, at a job I just started a month ago, I had a performance review with my supervisor. One of the things he mentioned was that I need to keep my voice down. Some co-workers had complained they were having trouble focusing.
The thing is, I never notice I’m talking loud. It’s just my normal voice. I managed to make it to my 30s without this being an issue. Why is this just coming up now? Maybe my new town is just full of strangely quiet people who need to loosen up. And anyway, how can someone change something as deeply ingrained as the way she speaks? I really don’t think there’s anything I can do about it. At this point, I’m getting bitter. It feels as though everyone is out to get me. – Loudspeaker
Dear Loudspeaker: It sounds as if the only thing these people are out to get is some peace and quiet. Given that this has happened at home and at work, you have to accept that the problem is you, not them. I sincerely suggest you have your ears checked. Hearing loss can start at any age.
In the meantime, swallow your pride and apologize to your neighbors. Let them know it’s an issue you’re working on, and give them your cellphone number so they can call you – instead of the eviction-happy landlord – if your volume is bothering them.
Dear Annie: My wife has obsessive-compulsive disorder, and it’s taking a toll on our relationship.
She opened up to me about her disorder when we were dating. I noticed some behavioral tics – tapping, counting, blinking, etc. – but nothing major like what I imagined OCD to be like.
It wasn’t until recently, a year into our marriage, that she started getting very aggressive about cleanliness in the house. She yells at me for dishes not being put back in the exact right place. I usually end up feeling defensive and lashing out in turn. You can imagine how well that works out. It spirals into a big fight.
She’s too stubborn to ever apologize. She would rather sleep on the couch for a few nights than admit she was wrong. We had a big fight last week, and I told her I think she needs to be in therapy. She got enraged and said I was trying to use her OCD against her to make her opinions seem illegitimate.
I don’t know what to do. I am totally committed to making our marriage work, but this keeps happening lately. – Rattled Husband
Dear Rattled: Remember that OCD is the problem, not your wife. It bothers her just as much (or more) than it bothers you. Do encourage her to seek treatment, but approach the subject when things are calm.
Visit the International OCD Foundation website, at https://iocdf.org, for guidance about helping a loved one who has OCD.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.