Tuesday, August 14 , 2018, 11:12 pm | Fair 72º

 
 
 
 

John Daly

Relationships

John Daly: Is My Wife Having Trouble with Me, or Am I Having Trouble with My Wife?

I received a letter yesterday. Here’s how it read:

Dear John:

I’m having real problems with my wife. She is always on my case. Nothing I do is ever right. She constantly points out my flaws ... particularly in front of other people. The other night, we went out to dinner. The restaurant was small, and she started in on me immediately with “why did you wear that shirt? You look terrible in it. Why don’t you make more money so we can eat in a better restaurant? Better put a napkin on the front of your shirt. You eat like a slob.”

This went on the entire meal, so much so that I had heartburn when we got home! There are other things that she does that are very troublesome. I feel like I’m either totally inadequate or might be in an abusive relationship. What do you think?

Sincerely,

Heart Sick with Heartburn

Here’s my response to Heart Sick with Heartburn:

Take this test to determine if you are in a relationship with a bully.

» Your partner often criticizes you, pointing out your weaknesses and putting you down.

» Your partner makes fun of you critically. When you express that his or her words are hurtful, he or she claims just to be joking.

» He or she tries to force you to mold your behavior to suit his or her wishes. He or she rejects you if you don’t do or say what he or she wants.

» He or she is unpredictable. What you did yesterday may set him or her off today. You never know what to expect from him or her.

» Your partner accuses you of being untruthful, even though you are not.

» Your partner is lovable in private but either shuns or embarrasses you in front of others or in public.

» Your partner makes empty promises to manipulate you into the behavior he or she desires.

» Your partner uses threat of divorce or a breakup if you “don’t come to your senses” and give in to his or her will.

» You have to nag your partner to spend time with you.

» Your partner is never around when you need help or are having a bad day.

» Your partner avoids having you spend time with his or her family and friends. And your family and friends dislike your partner.

» Your partner compares you to others, particularly his or her ex.

» Your partner is abusive, either verbally, emotionally or physically. Your partner screams, loves chaos and is self-centered. He or she often asks for forgiveness and promises to change but never does. This person can act normal but stress often brings out the bully in him or her.

If you answered yes to that last one, I suggest you leave the relationship as soon as possible. This person has a problem and needs to work on it with a professional.

For your own safety and sanity, don’t stay in a relationship where you or anyone you love is at risk. You can’t change your partner. You can only take care of yourself at this point. Be direct about the reason you are leaving and suggest he or she get help.

If you answered yes to most of the rest of the questions but want to work on the relationship, try some of the following:

» When your bullying partner treats you with respect, express your appreciation for the manner in which he or she is communicating and behaving with you.

» Whenever possible, encourage time alone together to work on your relationship.

» When your partner begins to bully, explain how you feel so that he or she won’t get defensive with you.

» Don’t protect your bullying partner’s behavior. Let him or her take the consequences for his or her behavior.

» Remember that if children are involved in your relationship, your bully is “showing” that behavior to the children, and often these children will emulate that behavior as adults. Seek professional advice to help stop this vicious cycle.

The first step is to create an open and very honest dialog with your partner to eliminate bullying behavior together. If your bully refuses to cooperate, then it’s time for you to make some hard choices.

— John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for good manners and job search success. Click to learn more about The Key Class, or to buy the book.  Follow John on Facebook and Twitter @johnjdalyjr. Do you have an etiquette question? ASK John at [email protected] The opinions expressed are his own.

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