TheConfidante In the Media
Ever been at a party where you’ve felt rather squirmish and uncomfortable because someone has been putting down their partner in front of everyone? Have you wondered if you should look at the ceiling, dive to the bathroom or start clearing dirty dishes from the table? Maybe you felt the need to defend either of them?
I’m wondering if this has ever happened to you? Found yourself in the habit of mentioning a few of your spouse’s unsavoury nuances whilst in the company of others? Yes, those comments about gasses, tardiness or phone use?
It sure is a ghastly common snag for couples which results in humiliation and distress.
Vanessa and Brad arrived for marriage counselling with exactly this issue. They were another gorgeous couple (I seem to get all the glamourous clients!) married for seven years with two beautiful girls under five years old. They were both successful people in their careers and somewhat envied by their friends as the “It couple”. Vanessa was exuberant, extroverted and bubbly. Brad was more the quiet, introverted but handsome type. (Often the case where individuals are attracted to those who complement aspects of themselves that they lack!) For many years, they did bring out the best in each other, until…
Vanessa started to become frequently tearful following the children’s birthday parties and family gatherings. She noticed Brad would make snide remarks in front of their close friends and family. He dropped criticisms about “Always being on her phone…”, “She talks too much…” and “Never around as she’s out drinking with her girlfriends…” Sometimes these comments were in Vanessa’s earshot. As you can imagine, she was devastated, hurt and embarrassed.
Why does a nice guy like Brad do this? Why didn’t he mention these things at home?
In my counselling experience, two main reasons:
Here’s an important reminder! Every single person in a relationship needs to be able to assertively deliver communication in a non-blaming way and for it to be received that way. You need to feel heard!
What happened to Vanessa and Brad? We tracked their communication and conflict style. As it turns out, Vanessa would criticize Brad in response to his feedback which was delivered in a somewhat abrupt and harsh manner. He would usually erupt as had been ruminating over his thoughts for way too long. Vanessa would drag up a time when he was on his phone or when he disappointed her with clear examples to support her case. They had become embroiled in a conflict dance where no one was heard, no one won, then chose not to say anything at all about their concerns with each other.
As a result, Brad’s concerns didn’t disappear, so they “leaked out” when out with other people as he sought understanding and empathy from his troubled, lonely and disconnected existence.
The first step for Vanessa and Brad was revealing their conflict dance so I could coach them patiently into a new style. They sure were relieved to find some new steps to tango! It took a lot of repetition to break out of the old cycle – but they did it!
In summary, it is NOT okay to complain about your partner or put them down in front of others. This is your red flag to ask yourselves:
Your task this weekend is to give up the game of “Find the bad guy”. Edify your partner in front of others. Contemplate something they’ve achieved or consistently do well and tell the world. Don’t’ forget to tell them too!
Don’t forget to diarise my Facebook Lives each Therapeutic Thursday morning for Thriving Relationships to inject some relational inspirations into your weekend!
Joanne Wilson is the Relationship Rejuvenator and author of Renovate Your Relationship – All The DIY Tools For Your Most Important Project ($29.99). She is a neuropsychotherapist inspiring the community for thriving and dynamic relationships that impact generations for mental well-being. Waitlist for the next intake of her Relationship Rejuvenator Online Mini-Courses at www.relationshiprejuvenator.com
Joanne will be your Confidante, enabling you to speak freely in complete confidence and serenity. An integrated approach tailored to your specific needs will be utilised.
Joanne will be your Confidante, enabling you to speak freely in complete confidence and serenity. An integrated approach tailored to your specific needs will be utilised. Approaches such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Solution Focussed Therapy and Emotionally Focussed Therapy may be incorporated.
Relationship Specialist for Individuals and Couples online around the world and servicing areas for face to face sessions including Caloundra, Noosa, Noosaville, Buderim, Mountain Creek, Gympie.