Wife has always had an issue with being too nice to people, and predictably getting taken advantage of/manipulated into being an unwilling volunteer. This has been going on pretty much since I've known her, and ultimately I've clumsily bailed her out of most/all of these situations. Sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly.
I've never had the knowledge, patience or articulation to lead her to improve her social ability. Personally if I feel myself being manipulated/used I am very blunt about not wanting to be in the situation, and people end up fucking off. Wife is much more sensitive about peoples' feelings, and has sort of a "scarcity mentality" when it comes to friends. She will give in with the worry that if she doesn't comply something bad will happen. After listening to NMMNG I interpret this as abandonment issues. Her parents divorced at 7yo, and her dad more or less bailed, and my MIL was a big "I need friends around all the time and they're like family to me" type of person.
The most recent situation was that a classmate/friend of our son has a mom that is super fucking clingy. I don’t know why she is clingy, and I don’t really care. Our kids have hung out before, ours has stayed the night, and they get along pretty well. Now it’s summer, clinger mom works full time, and she can’t afford her babysitter. So she asks my wife to do it, as my wife works at a school, and for the most part has the summer off. As noted, wife doesn’t know how to handle shit like this. She clearly does not want to do this, and rightfully so as it’s a ridiculous request. Put him in a fucking daycare like everybody else.
I took some initiative here as I saw this as an opportunity to lead. I suggested some methods on how my wife should handle the situation. She’s a "nice person," so when I told her to text a perfunctory “no, I can’t do that” her head pretty much exploded. I took her phone, and I sent the text. I told her do not answer if she calls, as I know this is more than she can handle. She looks immediately relieved.
Other mom responded immediately with a 4-5 text saga, and wife freaks out. I break down the texts for her. “This woman is manipulating you. Whether she intends to or not, she is deliberately trying to put pressure on you to do what she wants. Look, she even brings up the kids, and how good it is they’re friends blah blah blah.”
Five or so minutes pass: I then tell her to text back “Sorry, I just don’t have the time.” Again wife’s head explodes. I type out the text and send it. 2-3 more texts back immediately. Complete change of tune. Very generic “I’m sorry for bothering you, blah blah blah.” Basically a guilt trip.
Wife: Jesus you’re right. Look how manipulative this is. Now she’s trying to make me sound like the bad guy.
Me: I know.
Her: What should I say now?
Me: Nothing. The conversation is over.
Her: What if she texts again?
Me: Ignore it. If it’s something you feel compelled to respond let me know. I’ll tell you whether you need to.
I don’t know if I handled this completely correctly. Some of it feels like I’m encouraging conflict aversion, but at the time I viewed it as someone trying to cross my wife’s boundaries. Also, I believe she was covertly begging me to help her solve this problem. She seemed extremely grateful, and went from super anxious to pretty much at ease.
Normally I would avoid interfering as this is her drama. But as I mentioned, this has happened before, and sooner or later I get dragged into this shit whether directly or indirectly. This time I viewed it as a chance to be viewed as her captain, and acted preemptively. I saw an opportunity to teach her how to recognize and handle this shit from the beginning, and for the time being it seems to have worked out.
I'm curious if there's anything I missed or fucked up here. Was I too hands-on? Am I encouraging conflict aversion? Or am I just overthinking this?