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'My wife keeps tying my boots after I told her not to. So I tried to teach her a lesson.' UPDATED

'My wife keeps tying my boots after I told her not to. So I tried to teach her a lesson.' UPDATED


"My [36M] wife [34F] keeps tying my boots after I've told her to keep her hands off of them. I tried to teach her a lesson and really hurt her feelings."

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 MOTHERF@&^%R F#%&ED 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?

Edit: I promise you I am reading every one of your comments and appreciate the advice. A couple things to address points that keep getting brought up.

1.) My wife has never been diagnosed as having OCD. As an EMT, I'm very careful about labeling someone as having a disorder as I don't have the proper qualifications to make that diagnosis. I do agree that it's time for her to see somebody, get a proper diagnosis, and address these issues.

2.) My boots lace up in the front and zipper on the side. They're not a full unzip but rather an unzip to open them up a bit. The way my wife is tying them makes them impossible to get on even with the zipper down. They're weather proof and great for standing on rough terrain or the highway after accidents.

They're only about a year old and were actually a gift from my wife. I've not considered Velcro before, I'm a bit hesitant to do that as I don't know that they wouldn't catch on things or wear out quicker. I've tucked the laces in but she still tied them up.

3.) This is a bit of compulsive behavior on my part. I don't leave my boots in the garage because my mother was a smoker growing up and that's where she would smoke. So I would end up with ashes in my shoes and having them reek of tobacco after.

So I developed a habit of wearing them into my home. Also, if I leave them there, they're likely to get moved someplace 'safe' where it will take me even longer to find them. Putting the boots in the closet, she found them and tied them. Putting them under the bed or out of sight they were found, tied, and moved to the closet.

4.) I honestly believe that a footlocker or any other kind of box would get moved to where I would have to wake her up to find it. If it's locked, then my keys are likely to go missing. For some reason, sitting on my dresser is not appropriate but in the pocket of a jacket downstairs in the closet is.

5.) I am likely going to start putting my boots in the car. Though I had to laugh at the people suggesting decoy boots. As much as it may seem like it, I'm not living in a Spy vs. Spy cartoon.

6.) I am a volunteer EMT. We respond from home. We don't have sleeping quarters, and I work the overnight shift so I sleep during my shift, get out of bed when a call comes in, drive to the building, and take the ambulance to the scene. This is typical of volunteer organizations.

Paid EMS is more likely to have sleeping quarters or even require EMTs to be in the truck throughout their shift. Community based EMS is more likely to take 911 calls and respond to emergencies whether paid or volunteer. Private EMS is more likely to take transport requests such as to/from dialysis or chemotherapy as well as hospital to nursing facility discharges.

7.) To those who have told me that I don't have the right to use the word lifesaving, on my dress uniform I have pins for 3 defibrillator saves and 4 for CPR saves. I've crawled into a car wreck to open someone's airway and bag them until we could get them out.

While transporting a patient I recognized signs of internal injury and ordered we divert to a trauma center, where he was put directly into emergency surgery that saved his life. Did I do these things entirely by myself? No, of course not. I would never claim that I was the sole reason someone lived.

However, I am, at my very basest level, as vital link in the chain or survival. So while I can't claim complete credit for any of the things I've done, I would certainly put a lot of blame on myself if someone didn't live because of something I failed to do.

8.) I have a full-time job that I work 8-5 Monday - Friday outside of EMS. That is why I volunteer on the night shift. My wife works as a payroll manager for a mid-sized office. I earn about $10,000 a year more than her. We've been married for two years. While I lived on my own before we were married, she didn't move into the apartment until we got engaged.

So, I think to her, that was my place, not ours, and she didn't really touch my things. I was with another EMS organization until we moved to a new town after our engagement.

When we bought the house, I joined the local volunteer squad as an EMT. My wife regards my job as part of my identity while she sees the EMS as something I volunteer to do. She would say, "This is my husband, he is [job title]," not "This is my husband, he is an EMT."

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 abusive.

Commenters weighed in:


Tell your wife that this interference with your gear could crash your marriage and facilitate a death. And is she good with that or will she work on herself.


Ask your wife if she got hit on her morning run how would she like it if her doctor was late cause his wife tied his shoes.


Your wife’s behavior sounds compulsive. She likely has a major anxiety disorder that manifests in this way. Which explains her “inability” to stop herself from the rearranging and the lacing and whatnot. She needs therapy and medication pronto. BUT that doesn’t explain her minimizing the importance and urgency of your job.

EVEN IF you weren’t literally saving lives, I’d be pissed as hell if my partner trivialized my work and dismissed my need to be organized and prepared for my job. I’m skeptical that your marriage is truly as great as you say it is, and I’m concerned that you’re just in the habit of subjugating your own needs to keep the peace due to your wife’s “quirks”.


You don't need to do anything to make things right with your wife. You need to find a therapist for her so that she can get the professional help and medication that she needs. At this point you giving in to her insanity only enables her behavior, which is either crazy, or arrogant and selfish beyond belief. After she begins treatment, then you guys should see a couple counselor to work out the rest of your issues.


Hide ya shoes, or if she's on the smaller side of the height scale put them up in a higher place.


I don't think you have to do anything to make her feel better. Throwing away your stuff without asking already is a red flag, willingly risking lifes because your shoes don't look right is really really unhealthy behaviour. She should see a therapist and you don't have to excuse for anything.

Two weeks after his original post, he shared this update:

I've gotten a few requests for update but didn't want to post until I felt like I really had anything to say. A lot has happened in the past two weeks so I'm going to try to go over it as best I can. My wife and I started talking again.

We had a very serious conversation and I did apologize for what I did to her running shoes, and then I told her I had to speak some truth and I wanted her to promise me that she wasn't going to roll her eyes, interrupt me, scoff, or get sarcastic with me, which she did.

I told her that I was not kidding about my boots, that while most of the time I caught geriatric transports, falls, and nausea, there were instances where response time was of the essence and I didn't have time to play around with my boots in the middle of the night.

I told her that there have been times when my intervention has been critical in saving a life, when my training has helped me recognize an underlying emergency, or when a call I made ensured that a patient was prioritized upon arrival at the hospital.

I explained that a lot of the shit I see, I don't tell her about because I don't want to give her nightmares or make her worry about me. She actually listened and didn't dismiss what I had to say. She responded that she was trying to help by keeping things neat. I responded, "But you're not. Sweetie, I'm not trying to be mean, but you're not helping. You're hindering me.

One day it may be the difference between life and death. I need you to not touch my gear. It's where I know where it is, it's where I can easily find it in a short amount of time, and if you move it, you are impeding an emergency response. I don't care if it looks neat. It serves a function, it doesn't look pretty. If you want to help me, please leave my gear where I put it."

A few nights later I had my friend Officer Rich come over. Officer Rich was one of the two cops that did CPR on the victim that night. The three of us sat on our deck and had a few social distancing beers. He talked about getting there, doing CPR, giving Narcan, waiting for the ambulance and getting her back shortly before we got there. He then pulled out a few photos of car accidents that I had worked.

He showed them to my wife and pointed out, "This car went into a tree. Your husband crawled into the wreck, put a collar on the driver, and stayed in there giving him oxygen until we could get him out." "Your husband pulled a three year old out of this wreck." "Your husband recognized that the driver had a stroke and took her to a stroke center, which likely saved her life."

After that, I told her I had something I wanted to show her and I asked her for the same promise I'd asked earlier. When she agreed, I showed her a video on YouTube of a police bodycam from an overdose. This video showed how critical time is in getting someone back, and the training someone goes through in order to give the drug, do CPR, and utilize an AED.

I told her, "I'm not trying to attack you, I don't want to have a fight, but I want you to understand what I go through. That I hope every call I go on is transporting a boo boo, because otherwise it means that if I don't do everything right someone could die. If I don't get out that door as quickly as possible, someone could suffer brain damage while they're waiting for me to give them oxygen.

If I'm upset and shaking because I had to waste time opening my boots, I might miss something critical and someone might not make it." She acknowledged that she understood and told me she hadn't really thought about the danger of what I do until the other night when she saw the photos of the wrecks. I told her that I think she has OCD and needs to see a therapist because it's hurting our marriage.

I listed examples of her throwing important things out, moving things without permission, and messing with my gear. I offered to go together and said I'd be willing to work on things together. After I pointed out the pattern, she agreed that it was time to speak to someone.

She wants to think about whether she wants to go together or go by herself, but she has promised me that she's going to try to change her patterns. I brought up her saying she thought I was going to hit her, and she acknowledged she'd been with guys who flew off the handle with little provocation and scared her.

That she'd never seen me get that angry and it triggered her because she didn't think I was capable of blowing up like that. She's been very emotional lately and has been going through mood swings. She's been worried about me going out on calls. The other day she started crying and said, "I hope you know how much I appreciate what you do." Knock on wood, since we had the talk, she hasn't touched my boots.

Is everything resolved? Not by a longshot. But she seems to have a new appreciation for what I do. Thank you for all of your responses. I wound up not showing her the thread, because a lot of it was pretty harsh towards her. I recognize I cherry picked incidents that didn't put her in the best light, and there's a lot more to her and our marriage than that.

She is the person I chose for the rest of my life, and I want us to work.

tl;dr Let my wife into my world a little more, she let me into hers, and she hasn't touched my boots since.

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