Do you mock your mate?
Can a relationship sustain constant mockery and devaluation of either of the partners? Can you be happy if you were being treated as a laughing stock by your own spouse?
Can you share a healthy emotional bond with a sarcastic better half? As a matter of fact, teasing may be normal, but insensitive mocking is not as it may end up ripping the relationship apart...
"My husband always teases me for being overweight. He not only calls me names like fatso and fatty, but also pokes fun at my eating habits. Initially I took it lightly, but when it was happening often and that too in public, I completely lost it. I have started avoiding any sort of conversation with him and even take my meals separately. I have also stopped accompanying him at social functions. However, this turmoil cost me my self-esteem," shares a teary-eyed Sudeshna Mohanty, married for the last eight years.
43-year-old Pawan Juneja also has a similar story to share. A jovial person by nature, he always welcomed healthy humour, but on being mocked by his wife about his educational qualifications, Pawan began remaining aloof in his relationship. "My wife is much more educated than me. Even after 15 years of our marriage, she'll not leave a single chance to let me down in front of others due to the educational gap. I feel hurt when I face such humiliation in front of our kids," he confesses.
Surprisingly, these are minor issues on which partners pull each other's leg without realising they are overdoing the mockery and may even be causing deep humiliation. The main aspects of ridicule often include a partner's routine habits like snoring, physical attributes like weight, height or complexion, family upbringing like literacy levels or their financial status and lastly, personal traits like their dressing sense or communication skills. While healthy humour may salvage a relationship, mocking your partner can, at times, act as the deadliest wrecker.
Dr. Kamal Khurana, relationship counselor states, "Laughing together and laughing at someone are two different things. When you say something satirical about your mate, you are in a way belittling, disowning and disrespecting him/her. Whether consciously or unconsciously, partners fail to realise that such callous remarks indicate their inconsiderate behaviour and will in the long term harm the relationship."
Dr. Gitanjali Sharma, a marriage counselor, elucidates, "What impact mocking leaves on a relationship depends on many factors, foremost being the genuineness of the issue being ridiculed. Timing of the mockery also matters. If a relationship is already going through a tough phase, you might just make it worse by poking fun of your mate. In front of who you are ridiculing them also makes a difference because disrespecting your partner in front of friends and relatives can hurt their self-esteem in a big way. Lastly, the nature of your spouse is of utmost importance, while some may just laugh the joke away, others may get offended or may become aggressive and give it back."
Tracing the reason
In a relationship, most couples want to be esteemed by each other. So there can't be any excuse for degrading your partner. Mockery and devaluation are inevitably symptoms of anger, resentment, personal insecurity, fear, personal unhappiness or pathological narcissism.
Blaming the mindset of couples and confronting the situation, Dr. Khurana adds, "In most cases, partners are reluctant to acknowledge the reason behind the problem or they are totally unaware of the causes and as a result, they turn insensitive towards their spouses."
Sharing her story, Avantika Mishra (35), a housewife says, "My husband knows that I don't like his mocking my snoring habit and he understands well how to refrain from it. Yet, at times, when an argument creeps up or a funny incident is being discussed at the dining table, he'll somehow bring up the same topic, which is hurtful to me."
Is the weaker partner in a relationship prone to face the brunt of ridicule every time as the other partner turns a blind eye at the harm being inflicted? Can an angry or disturbed mind be a justified reason to let your partner down in front of others or simply annoy them by means of unacceptable mockery?
Dr. Rahul Chandhok, consultant psychiatrist, Batra Hospital opines, "In any relationship, if one partner becomes too critical and over analytical about the other, mockery becomes a routine habit, which definitely has a strong bearing on the other half. Some partners tag their mockery as part of their jovial nature, but somewhere they need to know if their ridiculing is offending the one they love."
Handle Conflict & Communication in a Marriage
In the article "Making Your Marriage Work" featured in Self Help magazine, Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus says that, "Being able to communicate is one of the greatest assets in any relationship." Communication skills are essential in maintaining positive relations with your spouse and resolving conflicts as they occur. If you want to handle conflict and improve the communication in your marriage, you simply have to change the way you and your spouse communicate with one another.
- Identify sources of conflict. According to the University of Missouri Extension, four common causes of conflict in a marriage are money, in-laws, sex, and child rearing. Knowing that these can cause problems in a marriage can help to prevent conflicts from occurring.
- Arrange a format for communication with your spouse. Take turns in your conversations about conflict, and seek to understand the other person before seeking to be understood. Work out a mutual give and take in your conversations, and arrange times to have a productive talks rather than attempting to spontaneously find time. This will ensure that you have the time to productively complete your conversation and not be interrupted in the middle.
- Make your marriage a safe place for both people. Dreyfus advises, "Confront and master the inevitable crises of life and maintain the strength of the marital bond in the face of adversity and create a safe haven within the marriage for the expression of difference, anger, and conflict." Your marriage should be a port in stormy seas, not the cause of further conflict.
- Put your relationship first. You and your spouse both came from separate families, but when you get married you need to change the nature of the relationships with those families so you can form a new family together. You will still be a part of your own families, but now you need to put each other before your relationships with parents and siblings. At the same time, if you have children, devote yourself to them without forgetting your spouse. Face the challenges of parenthood together, aligning your perspectives as partners.
Communicate With Your Spouse
- Practice. In order to be good at anything, you have to practice it. Communication is no different. You and your partner will need to not only practice talking, listening and reading signals but you will also have to do it every chance you get. Set aside time everyday to just talk and exchange feelings. You should both be the first person and the best person to know what your both going through and experiencing.
- Avoid small talk. It's too easy for us all to rely on questions about work, how a day went or conversations on the weather. Small talk is a courtesy we reserve for strangers and quiet moments. However a relationship should not fall back on small talk to fill the air. It's a crutch and a poor replacement for true conversation. Small talk fills, communication feels.
- Be open. Communication evolves when there is healthy and true openness. Say what you feel, mean what you say. However, openness does not mean lack of tact or lack of diplomacy. Your spouse or partner is human like you and has feelings that can be hurt. Even difficult subjects can be discussed properly.
- Trust. The more open and honest you are, the more your spouse will communicate. There are things spoken that stay between two people. And things spoken about are listened to and not ignored. Trust in communication also establishes that two people can and will work together through difficulties discussed. If one partner fears another's constantly angry reactions, trust is shaky and communication suffers.
Set The Environment for Better Communication With Your Spouse
All of us want to communicate with our spouses and loved ones. What happens when tension is high and one partner feels closed? Here are some helpful tips for setting the stage for meaningful dialogue.
- Set the time and place. Even in the old west it wasn't proper to shoot a man in the back. In your husband's world as a man, serious conversations are almost always proceeded by appointment. This is for safety. It gives him time to warm up to the idea of talking about a deep or emotional subject. Any subject that could be controversial would be a good subject to give him notice on. Do so in a friendly asking way so as not to set alarm. If your man has a habit of avoiding some issues, he often doesn't understand how important those are to the both of you. Set the appointment for after dinner, or possibly on another day. If you ask him when to plan for it, give a choice between A or B. I realize your desire is to clear the air, communicate and grow closer together. He may not see it that way because of past experiences with you or others. Giving him the heads up will assure him that he's not in for an ambush, but a meaningful conversation!
- Clear distractions. Distractions are your worst enemy in conversation. Some of the worst distraction are hunger and tiredness. Make sure both of you have had something to eat before the conversation. The two of you may have to exercise a lot of patience and understanding. A full stomach goes a long way towards success. Don't go into hot subjects when you are both tired. Also, make sure you have his attention. Make sure the TV is off and the cell phones are off. My wife and I have had to delay several conversations until after a meal or snack because I was just too hungry after work. By doing so she allowed me to listen better and we were successful!
Stick to the subject . Write down the subject, one example and the desired outcome. You have asked your man to discuss with you. Venting will only be destructive. If you vent on him, he will leave or clam up. (and he has every right to do so). When you write down the subject and the example at hand, you can more easily focus on those two things rather than bring up all the previous incidents or similar subjects. Writing down the desired outcome will clarify not only to him, but to you, what you want out of the discussion. In his world, it is important to define the subject in order for him to feel safe.
Review the desired outcome. In a man's world, the usual reason for a deep conversation is to accomplish something. When you write down the goal of the conversation you clarify the purpose for both of you. Let's face it, If you don't know why you are having this important emotional conversation, then he certainly won't. He will be scared that he won't please you and will be hurt in the process of trying. Every man, when faced with a deep and emotional conversation will ask two questions subconsciously - "will I get hurt" and "Will I succeed". Your man want' to know that he will have an objective to this conversation, so that when it's all done, he will know whether he succeeded. Do you just want to share? To be comforted? To come to a resolution? To get information? When you can verbalize your desired outcome, he can meet that need safely and intimately.
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