How many times has your spouse asked you, “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” you answer.
But that doesn’t fix anything. It may even make things even worse.
Your spouse is talking, and you’re not quite present. You seem a little distracted, or irritable. You’re a little less attentive than you usually are, and even forget something you were supposed to take care of. You get upset at something that normally wouldn’t bother you.
And God forbid it gets as bad as it did for George Baily in It’s A Wonderful Life. George comes home after the bank deposit has been lost and begins snapping at Mary and the children. Of course she asks, “What’s wrong, George?” He can’t bring himself to tell Mary about what has happened, and things go downhill from there.
If your spouse is sensitive at all, they will know when something isn’t quite right with you even when you think you’re covering it up quite well. That’s both good and bad: you may not really want to talk about it with him/her right then, because then you would have to worry about their reaction to the problem as well as the problem itself.
And so you answer, “Nothing.”
I’ve learned that answering “Nothing” usually adds to my husband’s anxiety if he senses that something is wrong. It’s easy for him to worry that he has done something to make me unhappy, or imagine that I’m stewing on a really big problem he’s not aware of.