As a dominant male Musicman's primary duty is to protect and provide. He made that very clear to me from the very beginning. Yes, I know, technically protect and provide are two things, but they are of equal importance to him so they count as one.
When ever something happens that upsets me, he feels it is his duty to fix that thing for me. The problem arises when something happens that he can't fix. He would like to think he is superman and can fix everything for me. I believe he is superman, but I also know there are just some things he can't fix. Or can he? That depends on how you define fixing things.
When I've had a frustrating day at work, I often come home and vent to Musicman. When the kids and the animals are jumping on my last nerve, it helps to have him to vent too. That used to frustrate him quite a bit. Not because he didn't want to listen, but because he wanted to fix the situation for me, but he couldn't.
It took many conversations and probably just as many arguments, to figure out why he would become so upset when I vented. It frustrated him that he couldn't protect me from the things that were upsetting me. It frustrated him that he couldn't fix things for me.
For awhile, I would tell him, I don't need you to fix this for me, I just need you to listen. That helped some, but not as much as either of us liked. It still caused him frustration, because to him it felt like he wasn't doing his number one job, protecting and providing for me. He would offer advice on how he would handle the situation, but that often wasn't helpful for me.
As a woman I can not employ the same techniques for dealing with people as he does. Let me give you an example: once when a co-worker annoyed Musicman, he grabbed him by the throat and jacked him up against a wall. His other co-workers pulled him off and the man escaped with his life, but never bothered him again. Obviously, that is not something I can easily do, even if I sometimes want too.
I finally realized that him listening when I vented was important enough to me that it did qualify as fixing things for me. Did it really fix the situation? No, but it helps to dissipate the frustration and anger I am feeling at the moment. It allows me to be calm enough to hear him and his suggestions, which rarely ever include physical violence anymore.
Once I understood that, I explained to him how important it was to me that he be a safe haven. An outlet to safely express my anger and frustration. I explained to him that in being that safe haven for me, he really was fixing things for me.
There has been a recent progression in this area. I still have the luxury of venting to him about things, but some times I have a hard time knowing when it is enough already. I sorta get stuck in an endless loop. It is no longer a way for me to blow off the stress, instead it starts to ramp me up and I become more and more upset. Not pleasant for him and no longer productive for me. When that happens he recognizes it and plainly and simply tells me to stop. That's all he has to say, STOP, with that certain authority in his voice. It always seems to work too. I stop and I feel better.