Each of us has been in the uncomfortable situation of hanging out with another couple that sees no wrong in belittling or nagging one another in public.Perhaps the wife makes a comment about what the husband MUST do, or what he SHOULD be wearing.The husband may tell the wife something that she cannot do, or correct her in front of someone else. Or you may be married to one of the many people in this world who don’t understand the shame and humiliation that occurs when another adult (especially a spouse) calls them out in front of others and corrects them. Whether it be a little piece of lettuce left on the chin, or a stern correction to a story that they are telling – it is an embarrassing and frustrating thing to watch or be victim to.
So why do spouses do this? Correcting your spouse in public is wrong. A marriage is supposed to be about two people who love and respect one another equally.If one spouse feels that they have the right to humiliate or embarrass their spouse in public (or in private) what exactly does this say about the marriage itself? Some things should be kept private, and the hope is that by time people are old enough to be married, they should understand both proper etiquette and the rules of engagement, which clearly dictate that some things should remain private.
For most, the simple correction which can be perceived as bossiness or elitism is not something that they intend to feel embarrassing or humiliating to their spouse. Truth is, that the behavior to correct others is just embedded in their flesh, and they do so without realizing the consequences to the other person and how it makes them feel. So if you are on the corrective end of things, the first step is to confront your spouse. Be sure that you do so in private and that you are armed with specifics so you can explain to him or her exactly what you mean. Then, it may be a good idea to come up with a signal between the two of you so should the situation happen again, you can communicate your discontent without retaliating.
Of course, there are plenty of other couples, who use the public digs to reinforce their feelings of not being happy in the marriage. Normally, these folks are so selfish that they just want things to go their way, and also try to create situations like this in the marriage so they can feel justified in their own feelings. Perhaps they are embarrassed of their spouse, so like a teenager, they handle the issue in all the wrong ways. Couples who are having marital troubles also will correct each other in public as a means to have things arbitrated. Of course the hope is that the people around will see things their way. But most often, it causes others to get squeamish and attempt to disarm the couple by ways of distraction.
It is important to understand that few other people want to be around this behavior, largely in part because it makes the others that you are with extremely uncomfortable. If you have noticed that other couples don’t want to go out with you and your spouse anymore, you may have to wonder if your constant nags are making others uncomfortable. Plus, it is belittling, downgrading and down right disrespectful to your spouse.
Psychologists say another reason that people do this to their spouse, is simply because they are insecure in the situation that they are in.If they are out with friends or family and are feeling a tad insecure, they will make off handed comments and correct spouses as a way to assert themselves and feel better. In other words, the real problem is with them, and subconsciously they feel that taking the attention off of themselves by diverting attention to their spouse, will lessen their own anxiety.
Interestingly, many marriage revival courses offered to couples in trouble seem to zone in on this very thing. The way we treat our spouses outside of the home are a direct resemblance of how we feel about them. And as time goes on and couples become increasingly comfortable with another, they often quite simply ‘forget’ their etiquette with one another. How often have you seen a man hold a door open for a stranger and let it slam on his wife? How often do you see a woman flirting with another man yet look at her own husband with disdain?
The spoken word is extremely powerful!In the days before woman had rights the general thinking about relationships was taken from a quote in the bible."The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life." Prov. 31:11-12.If you consider that same verse for both men and women, and realize that one of the most important premises for marriage is respect – it is quite easy to see why correcting your spouse in public is simply not a good thing to do.
The best advice is to come up with a plan. Certainly, you and your spouse are not always going to agree with one another about what goes on when the eyes of others are on you. And the two of you should know enough about one another to realize the rise in energy that occurs when spouse is displeased at the other. Instead of calling each other out, make a vow to always send a silent, private signal to one another in the presence of others. Then, when the two of you are alone, you can discuss what happened and both of you can have an opportunity to voice your concerns and feelings. The bottom line is that no spouse is above the other, and that in a marriage both must be treated as equals.It is an adult-to-adult relationship, and should always be respected as just that.