When she says, “It’s Fine,” but you know things really are NOT FINE.

Jen Anthony is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. As a therapist, Ms. Anthony has extensive experience in working with families, individuals and teens facing complex family dynamics. Her clinical experience includes treating anxiety, depression and substance abuse, among other areas of clinical focus. She supports individuals in developing effective communication skills and healthy coping behaviors to promote success in relationships. Her educational background includes a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Chapman University. Ms. Anthony resides in San Clemente with her husband of twenty-three years and her two children.

“It’s fine” in a way that says things aren’t okay.

As she bangs down the hall lugging a ladder with a handful of nine-volt batteries in search of a chirping smoke detector, she appears irritated. The barrier is that you are waiting for a request while she thinks you SHOULD notice and offer help. A noteworthy fact: The U.S. Open is playing on the television.

You ask, “What’s wrong?” and she replies, “Nothing.”

At this point, you may take her for her word, but something is actually wrong. She’s perfectly capable of solving this issue. However, she’s thinking all sorts of thoughts that range from “He doesn’t care. He doesn’t even notice the chirping” to “I’m doing all of this work while he just sits there enjoying golf.”

“You go ahead, Steve*. I’m good.” (using your name)

Her anger’s growing. There’s another emotion here: neglect or hurt. She thinks you may not care about something important to her and remains obstinate about making a request. You want her to use words. The conflict: she wants you to demonstrate you care through your behavior by offering to help.  

*Steve’s name has been changed

Nothing. You hear a big SIGHHH that resembles a huff.

She would love for you to do this task. You: “Babe, could I help with that?” Sigh. “That would be great. That noise is driving me crazy.” Empathize (even if you didn’t notice the chirping, acknowledge her feelings): “I get it. That’s irritating.” Set a limit next: “Could it wait until the commercial?” She: “Sure.”