There’s generally more to it than that, but this sort of thing happened enough in my first year of marriage that I made Mr.B a chart called “What to do when I say, ‘Nothing’” and taped it to his computer desk (at home, putting it up at work would have been a total a-hole move on my part). I don’t think it really worked, I’m pretty sure he lost it within a few weeks, but it helped me to clarify what was really going on behind the scenes when I said “nothing” and that, in turn, helped me talk to him about it more clearly. And I do believe that, since he had my cheat sheet buried somewhere in his subconscious, it eventually helped him listen to what I was saying about it. We rarely have the “nothing” fight anymore, and if we do it usually has more to do with outside stressors than bad communication on our part.
Some recent conversations have made me think that other people might find the “nothing” chart useful. It’s probably most effective when you make your own, but I’m happy to share mine to get you started. The first thing you need to do is figure out: