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Refusal to Live in Reality

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I feel that my husband refuses to live in reality. For example, we are working on an apartment right now. Other people are also working on the same apartment. The other people have used his tools and thrown some of his things away when they were cleaning up. He knows that they do this. He doesn’t discuss it with them. He just continues to leave things out because “they should know better”. And then when, lo and behold, something important gets thrown away or misused, he gets upset. This is a common pattern with him.
Another example is something he did with his dog. His dog would always get into the garbage can when we left the house. We tried several methods of keeping him out of the garbage can, but nothing worked. So I knew that if I left something particularly “tasty” in the garbage can, I needed to take the garbage out or do something because the dog was going to get into the can.  My husband wouldn’t do that. He would just leave the “tasty” garbage there and then get mad every time because “the dog shouldn’t do that”.

No, people shouldn’t throw away your stuff. Yes, the dog shouldn’t get into the garbage. But we don’t live in “should” world. We live in the real world. Or at least I do.

Anyway, clearly I’m aggravated about this at the moment. But my question is, what is this? What is this all about? Why is he like this?

Refusal to Live in Reality

Answered by on -


What is curious about this is that you are frustrated because your husband doesn’t take responsibility for things — and continues his behavior believing “other people shouldn’t do that.” You are upset because he doesn’t confront the situation. Yet, from your email, I don’t read any evidence that you have confronted the situation with him. In essence, you are saying “he should know better.” What I am getting at is that you need to confront him about what is upsetting to you about this, and what might be done about this. I’d certainly invite you to try this together with him first, but if a discussion doesn’t lead to some changes then it is time to bring in a couple’s therapist. The find help tab at the top of the page will help you locate someone in your area if you go that route.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Refusal to Live in Reality

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Refusal to Live in Reality. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 7, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 4 Mar 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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