Does Your Partner Judge You In Front Of Others?By Dr. Margaret Paul
March 18, 2014
Do you get stuck not knowing what to say or do when your partner treats you disrespectfully?
Louise asked me:
"Do you have any suggestions on what to say when my husband says unloving words to me in front of others, including our children? I don't want my kids to keep witnessing disrespectful behavior toward their mother. When I challenge his treatment of me, his anger escalates and the chastisement worsens. I am frequently embarrassed when I am scolded like this in front of others, but more importantly, I wish my children to understand that this is not ok. How can I model what to say to him so that my kids can learn how to take loving care of themselves in such situations?"
Louise, this is the kind of situation where, rather than directly challenge his treatment of you, you need to simply state your truth, such as saying, "I don't like being treated in this judgmental and disrespectful way, so every time you do it, I will speak up and say I don't like it and I will leave the room. If it's out in public or in a restaurant, I will get up and say, 'I don't like being treated this way. It's not okay for me to be treated disrespectfully,' and then I will leave. I will take our car or I will take a cab home, but I will leave the situation. I will no longer stay in your presence when you treat me this way."
Since he's been controlling you with his unloving behavior, you likely need to say this in a calm but firm way. It would be very good for your children to hear you say to him, calmly and firmly, from a strong adult place, "It's not okay for me to be treated in this unloving and disrespectful way, and when you do it, I'm going to walk away." That is being a role model for your children. If you challenge him, telling him he has to change, rather that telling him what you will do if and when he treats you this way, you are trying to control him, and you can't!
Your children need to see what it looks like for you to take loving care of yourself. They need to see you take action on what you do have control over - which is you. It would be wonderful for your children to see you moving into your power – to see you saying 'No! It's not okay for me to be treated this way!" And then walk out. Walk into another room. Walk out to your car and take a ride. Walk out from a restaurant or a party. Wherever you are, you have to be prepared to calmly speak your truth and then take the loving action.
Since your husband will not like being spoken to like that in public, he will likely stop doing it in public after the first time you take the action. And if you continue to walk out or leave the house when he does it at home and in front of the children, he may start to respect you. He is not going to respect you as long as you let him treat you so badly. And eventually, your children won't respect you either.
Things may get worse before they get better, because your husband will likely test you, but if you stay solid in your intent of taking loving care of yourself rather than trying to control him, it’s likely that he will eventually back off from his abusive behavior.
You will be able to do this when your highest priority is loving yourself and providing a loving role model for your children.
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Relationships Course: "Loving Relationships: A 30-Day at-Home Experience with Dr. Margaret Paul -
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By Dr. Margaret Paul