In my house it's my husband that feels helpless when I vent or complain and then he tries to be helpful and tries to "fix" it, when in truth I just needed a sounding board or someone to show me some compassion. It seems like he is second guessing my decissions or my ability to handle what ever it is. We had to come to a deal, that unless I specifically ask for his advice or help, he just needs to listen. If there is any doubt, ASK! I have also learned that sometimes I need to let him know that I'm just venting or just need to talk it out. This has made a big difference for us.
I don't know the specifics of your conversation, but I do know that if he was just looking for compassion and got advice instead, he might feel like you don't respect him. It almost sounds like he just needed someone to listen.