Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

How to manage small disagreements with spouse

I am new to this forum and hoping to learn some techniques from other spouses. My spouse has schizoaffective disorder. We have been together seven years. He is med and psychiatrist compliant (I know I’m very lucky with that). In normal married life, disagreements and screw ups occur. I recently made a dumb choice without thinking which rightly upset him. But he immediately went to I was plotting against him and conspiring with a friend to “get him”. He spent the rest of the day “keeping an eye” on me. We were unable to talk about or work through the stupid thing I did, he didn’t hear/accept my apology, and the only resolution will be when he no longer feels like I am a threat.
I’m human and will make a mistake again at some point. Does anyone have any advice or suggestions for how to navigate small mistakes or disagreements in a way that doesn’t cause his symptoms to become the focus? Thanks.

As someone who lives with SZA who has I’ve never married, but been in long term relationships, I feel excluding features and management of his illness from such conversations may limit your ability to navigate such disagreements. LEAP techniques can help, especially if your husband is anasognosic, but they have limits if you can’t have frank discussions about how he processes or perceives events.

Giving a partner (and your perceptions) the benefit of the doubt is a learned skill, so taking the possibility of symptoms affecting their thoughts and feelings off-the-table make such disagreements less useful as teaching moments for times when stakes might be higher. But as I said, LEAP and especially the reporter technique and reflective listening may help you discover how your partner perceives situations and why. Beyond that,I would lean on recounting supportive actions you’ve taken in of your relationship or past mistakes that you or he have made that were amended as affirmations that he consider trusting you and accepting your apology.

In situations where you can talk frankly about possibilities that his perceptions might not be accurate, you could offer to help with or model reality-checking of his perceptions, but if symptoms of his disease are off-the-table, I’m afraid you can’t do this. Since I developed SZA before entering into relationships, I’m prone to leaning on partners in this capacity as a second witness to events, so I don’t misperceive them and tend more toward trusting partners and forgiving their mistakes. So I have a very long fuse for the simple fact that they help me navigate the world, much more than I can reciprocate.

Thanks for the response. I may not have explained myself well. I didn’t mean taking the symptoms off the table or excluding them, but more I guess how to work with them to be able to discuss what else is happening. Like, it becomes about me as a threat to him and what we disagreed about is totally lost and never discussed. He is not anasognosiac and fully accepts his condition.