Don't Hurt The Ones You Love

Author:
Dr. James Dobson

Do you enjoy teasing your wife? When you're with friends, do you occasionally reveal an embarrassing secret about her?

One key to building trust is to take great care not to hurt or embarrass those we love. Some information is private and should remain so. For one partner to reveal family secrets indiscriminately or to verbalize barely concealed put-downs breaks the couple's bond of loyalty and violates trust.

If you have ever watched someone play "Assassinate the Spouse," you know what I mean. The objective is simple: A contestant attempts to punish his mate by ridiculing her in front of their friends. If he wants to be especially vicious, he lets the guests know he thinks she is dumb and ugly. It's a brutal game with no winners. The contest ends when his wife is totally divested of self-respect and dignity; he gets bonus points if he can reduce her to tears.

Sound cruel? It is, even when it's carried out under the guise of joking or teasing. It's never enjoyable to watch someone take out anger against his (or her) mate in this way. We're most sensitive to the comments of our mates in the presence of our peers. This is a word game that should never be played.

Also beware of another type of charade: using your "sharing" with your spouse to create insecurity and gain power over him or her. I know of a handsome young company president who told his wife every day about the single women at the office who flirted with him. His candor was admirable, but by not also stressing his commitment to his wife, he was saying (consciously or not): "You'd better treat me right because there are plenty of women out there just waiting to get their hands on me." His wife began to fret about how she could hang onto her husband.

He should have reflected on his real motives for alarming his wife. Did this kind of sharing nurture or injure his friendship and trust with her? And she could have helped redirect the conversations by pointing out to her husband—in a calm, non-threatening manner—how his words made her feel.

 

From Dr. Dobson's book Night Light for Couples.

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