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NOT AGAIN: What to Do When Your Spouse Embarrasses You in Public

QUESTION:

What can I do when my wife acts so outrageous that it’s embarrassing?

ANSWER:

You didn’t describe the behavior you’re asking about, so I’m making some assumptions:

The fact that you consider it “outrageous” and “embarrassing” leads me to believe that you’re referring to behavior that is obnoxious, rude, or loud.

The fact that you’ve even raised this question makes me think this is happening on a regular basis.

I’m guessing you probably wouldn’t be embarrassed at all if the behavior were occurring in the privacy of your own home, so I’m also assuming it’s occurring in public.

Am I close?

The fact is that there are times in every marriage where our spouse acts in mortifying ways we’d rather them . . . not.  And, despite our best intentions, we do the same.  You are definitely not alone.

Check out this article on
5 Ways to Handle Embarrassment by Your Partner

However, behavior that is over-the-top inappropriate, offensive, or abusive is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.

So the question is really not whether or not our spouses will ever embarrass us, but how often it happens and the extremity of their behavior when it DOES occur.

Before You Take Action . . .

Consider these questions before you approach your wife:

How long has she been acting this way (e.g., since childhood?, after a significant event)?

What result or outcome is she looking for (e.g., attention, admiration)?

Does she only act this way in certain situations? What is the common denominator?

Is there a chance that there is a mental health issue involved?

Some Options:

Assuming you’ve thought through these questions, already spoken to your wife, and she has chosen to continue her stage act, you’ll need to make changes yourself or step up your game.

Allow me to make three suggestions, in escalating order :

Hold up a mirror. Have you ever captured a video of your wife’s meltdown and shown in back to her?  Being faced with a real-life picture of how other people view her theatrics might shock her enough to inspire better behavior.

Leave the scene of the crime. Calmly inform your wife that the next time her performance spirals to the offending level, you’ll disappear.  You may be surprised at how quickly this works.

Stage a mini-intervention. Are your wife’s friends also exposed to these outbursts?  Why not engage them to speak to her about their observations and describe how her behavior humiliates people and pushes them away?

These are just 3 ideas.  If you choose not to try them, another alternative is to accept your wife’s behavior.  And perhaps acceptance isn’t such a bad choice.  After all, her conduct—however outrageous—ultimately reflects only on HER and not on you.  Good luck.

 

P.S.  If we can help you better communicate with your wife so she’s able to hear your concerns in a fresh way, reach out to us or check out our blog on Communication 201: The Power of the Paraphrase.

 

 

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