Friday, May 14, 2010
Oh how I love to blame and shame him ...
In this relationship book, How to Improve Your Marriage without Talking About it, the worst thing a woman can do to a man is blame, shame and criticize him. According to this book, most women don't realize that men live for pleasing their women. So when women criticize their efforts, it really stings. Here are some of the ways we do it:
overreacting (I CAN'T believe you ...)
not letting him help (forget it, I'LL do it)
correcting (THIS is how you do it)
making unrealistic demands of his time and energy (I need you to ... and ...)
using a harsh tone (I'm so tired of your bullshit)
questioning his judgement (are you going to cook the garlic with the onions?)
withholding compliments (well, it's your JOB to mow the lawn)
showing no interest in his interests (I can't imagine what you see in that)
criticizing his family (your mother is getting on my fucking nerves)
giving unsolicited advice (why don't you ...)
focusing on my own unhappiness (I can't live this way)
expecting him to make me happy (If only you ...)
implying inadequacy (YOU should really be reading this book)
ignoring his needs (you're not really sick)
condescending (you did an okay job with dinner)
comparing (the neighbour's yard looks really nice)
globalizing (all men want is sex)
generalizing (you're always criticizing me)
therapizing (you're trying to make up for your father)
interpreting him (what you really mean is ...)
I remember when I first read this list, I hung my head in shame. There was no way that I treated other people like this yet I was being so abusive to my partner. Then I remembered my next reaction -- well, why the fuck is he so sensitive! I shouldn't have to sugar-coat every fucking word that comes out of my mouth for fear of shattering his pathetic fragile ego. After I calmed down and let it simmer (I always let things simmer), I started to notice his reaction to my words -- that sad, quiet, sullen expression. Words really do hurt. I was unknowingly adding bricks to his wall of resentment. It was a real wake up call for me. What a daunting task at first -- it felt hopeless. Whenever I started to feel it rise up inside me, I *tried* to invoke the process depicted in my very rough flowchart.
Does it work? When I can remember, yes. I'm no longer the habitual bitch. Of course a lot of that has to do with a) how I feel about myself b) my recent spiritual awakening c) the positive influence of some incredibly kind and gentle people in my life. When I slip, I realize it much quicker now and swiftly apologize to make things right again.
The 'golden rule', as utterly simple as it is, works too. Nobody likes to be criticized. Have I ever been criticized and then said "gee, thanks for that, I didn't see things quite like that"? Defensiveness is the knee jerk response we all have. So when some harsh words are on the tip of my tongue, rather than just speak my mind, I try to fast forward to what will happen next -- usually does the trick, when I think of it :-).
Love is more than a word we say to each other. 'I love you' means nothing when you're not treated with love and respect. Relationships really are about being the best you can for the other person.