the fine line between encouragement and disdain

sometimes it’s okay to tell someone to stop talking to you. a friend of mine was struggling with what to do about her sister who constantly complains about her husband. my friend has to hear time and time again how her sister has “lost all respect” for her husband and “what a disappointment” he has turned out to be.

did i mention that her husband is a heckuva nice guy who provides a good living (the sister drives a Mercedes) and loves his family?

the sister just doesn’t think her husband is successful enough and tells him so, and others apparently, at regular intervals.

here’s the thing, she thinks she’s motivating him by telling him how much of a loser she thinks he is. because, you know, men are super encouraged when the women they love openly tell them they suck at life. one friend of mine was even proud to tell me that she had just used the phrase “so you’re okay with being mediocre?” on her husband and was terribly put off and confused when i told her she needed to apologize immediately and probably several months of therapy.

disrespect, disdain, dishonor, disregard for laying waste to a man’s sense of self-worth are not motivating. they are defeating. talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy? tell your man he’s not good enough and guess what? he’s never going to be good enough.

ready for a shocker? (not that kind)

a decent man who has a woman who believes in him even when life is in the toilet will only want to be a better man. for her. for his family. for himself. dangling the carrot of respect is not motivating to a man. living up to respect that is freely given, is.

and men, if you find yourself in a situation with your woman where you are being put down and directly disrespected, feel free to tell her to either change her approach or to go ahead and shut up. okay, maybe don’t say “shut up”, but you can tell her you’ll no longer listen.

craig would never allow me to treat him like that. never. and i respect him for it.

and before you start the “but what if he’s behaving disrespectfullys” and the “what am i suppose do, just keep it to myselfs”, let me clarify. we are not talking about men who are engaging in bad behavior. those things should be talked about. just keep in mind mind that “talk” and “nag” are two different things.

we are talking about men who are decent and hard working and love their families and may or may not be where they want to be or hoped to be in certain areas of life and the women who rag about it.

it’s not an isolated problem. i would need both hands to count the number of couples who have been in my direct sphere of influence who i’ve seen this happen to. sometimes the wife comes around and realizes she was being terrible and sometimes she doesn’t.

when she does realize it and makes those changes in herself that restructure her value system (because that’s really the problem, not what her man is or isn’t accomplishing), it’s like watching the sun come up on a new future. when she doesn’t and continues to revel in her nastiness, it’s only a matter of time before the marriage dies. and more often than not, it’s death by affair. i’ve said it before, there is no excuse for cheating. but if you starve a man of a basic need, in this case, respect, he’s likely to find it elsewhere.

i told my friend to tell her sister she is no longer allowed to moan about her husband to her (my friend). just shut it down. even if she were to tell her sister she think she’s being awful (and she has), her sister will still be fed by being able to say out loud all her nasty justifications.

the same goes for the men being belittled. don’t stand for it. let her know she is free to voice concerns and *gasp* maybe even a solution, but she is not allowed to straight up put down.

men, women will tend to grant you the same amount of respect you own for yourself. a quality woman will give you even more than that, especially when you feel like you’ve let her down.

there are always going to be times in a relationship when one of you has hit a low point. it’s in those times you should be able to bank on the strength and support of the other. that’s how it’s suppose to work.

have you ever experienced an overly critical person in any setting?

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8 comments on “the fine line between encouragement and disdain

  1. You’re really right. I’m recently engaged, but since then life has thrown some inconveniences my way. It’s nothing too serious, but for a moment it looked like I had to spend the first few months of our marriage away again. I was truly downhearted by this and somehow feared my fiancee’s response. I know I wouldn’t have survived my ex-girlfriends reaction. My fiancee, however, was very supportive and expressed her believe in me and my future. That was the moment I felt ‘married’ for the first time. It was also a reminder of why I’m marrying her. The way she is patient, respects me and wants me to be at my best makes me want to be the best man for her.

    I have seen the tough love that was aiming to have me excel, but when I had to chose who to spend the rest of my life with, it was very obvious.

  2. Austin Gilly says:

    After a rough year (3 separate bouts of unemployment) My now fiancee has stuck with me. She has been encouraging every step of the way, and lifted me from bouts of depression multiple times. It’s crazy how much a woman’s words mean to a man, whether they are encouraging words or discouraging words.

  3. “men, women will tend to grant you the same amount of respect you own for yourself.”

    I don’t really have anything to add to that. I just wanted to repeat that because I can use that reminder sometimes, and I bet I’m not the only one.

  4. Jennwith2ns says:

    Sometimes I’ve BEEN the overly critical person. I hate that.

  5. Lauren says:

    “What am i suppose do, just keep it to myselfs?”: A question for all those overly critical blog readers with multiple personalities.

  6. Crystal says:

    I’ve seen many cases of wives being overly critical. In fact I have sometimes been that overly critical wife as well. Men really should speak in as nice a way as possible and point out that the criticism is counterproductive. Today I’ve found that unexpected words of admiration accomplishes a lot more that complaints and criticism.

  7. Max says:

    This is the result of a culture that has allowed an apple to be called an orange and vice versa and demanded that apple juice can be made from oranges and orange juice from apples. If she isn’t happy then go get her own job and make her own life and quit breaking this poor guys heart and emasculating him.

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