Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A Dark Side To Relationships

You should not talk shit about your partner to their friends. It's common sense.

I want to have a quick dialog about an aspect of relationships that bothers me. I'm sure I'm not alone in this; I know a few couples where usually I've known the man first, and then I'm introduced to his new girlfriend. I have found a few times, and it is rare, but at 37 I can count this happening to a few friends now, the girlfriend (and each one has later become the wife) will spend a lot of the time talking shit about her partner while he sits there in silent embarrassment. He doesn't want to start a fight, he wants his friends to like her as much as he does, and she makes a complete arse of herself by treating him like an accordionist's monkey. I've even seen the woman go so far to actually pick a fight with him over something that happened years ago and then try and earn the sympathies of all of his friends, when in reality everyone hates her for causing their friend pain. She's an outsider. An Extractor. It will be a long seduction to the dark side where she convinces him that his friends aren't really as close as he thinks, gets him to move away, encourages him to join her circles and family and leave his childhood friends behind.

This is husband abuse. It's disrespectful to him and to his friends. It makes everyone feel awkward and uncomfortable and yet no matter how many times you tell him "Man, why is your girlfriend is total bitch to you - what's up with that?!" He'll defend her, and if he tells her about this she'll say "I told you so. They're trying to break us up." and then she'll probably give him a blow job or something to cement in the suggestion of how much better she is for him than they are.

At a cookout or party she may start off by saying how dumb he was at some other party and what an arse he made of himself, she may talk about some humiliating thing that happened between them that he really would rather be kept private. When he tries to stop her, she picks the fight "You're always telling me what me what to do! Why can't you just be nice and stop embarrassing me in front your friends!" and woe how put upon by this big dolt is she? Is she trying to broadcast to all the other women around that really he's worthless and they shouldn't bother to try and steal him from her (Although everyone now wants to save him from her machinations) or is she just so completely insecure that she needs to bully him to feel better about herself and he's so thick that make-up sex after will cure it all? How about both?

I just want to say I cannot stand women who treat their partners like this. I'm not saying it's just women either, I have known men to treat their wives to this kind of embarrassment too and everyone knows it's just him trying to alienate her from her loved ones. I have to wonder about what happens behind closed doors and does she attack him physically as well? Abuse breeds abuse. What can he do to stop this cycle? How can we as their friends support them without alienating ourselves but also not sell our souls to the demon in his bed?

Then they have kids. What kind of parent is she going to be? Head games like that on a child can be so damaging. You can just hear the passive-aggressive arguments already can't you, "I'm sorry your daddy prefers to be with his friends instead of reading you a goodnight story. You're lucky mommy is here to love you." and she'll say this within earshot of a large group of people invited into her home, suddenly feeling very unwelcome, and embarrassed. Watching this train wreck of a family.

It causes me sadness sometimes and yet there's nothing to be done and I can't even speak about it or it will set off a fight between them. I just want them to be happy, so leave it alone. Keep my opinions and feelings about it to myself. Close down. Withdraw. Smile and nod, check my watch.

Then I hug my husband and tell him how much I love him, respect him and adore him.

Anyone else know what I'm talking about?


jomamma said...

I know what you're talking about. I've been around many couples that play this 'ego stroking' game. Constantly feeding off each other. And in the end the hubby and I silently remove ourselves from their company. It's contagious and who would want to hang around until you or your spouse ends up with that horrible disease? It is a train wreck and will eventually come to an end, but it won't be pretty when it does, so you just have to step out of the way so you don't get hit by flying parts.

Rox said...

I cannot stand it when this sort of thing happens. Derwood has a co-worker who is such a fantastic guy yet his wife is this majorly toxic person. It's so heartbreaking to watch her in action yet he continues to stay. It's so hard to find good couples to be friends with where everyone likes each other. It really is.

northern musings said...

Oh I so do especially hard when both of the individuals are close friends but one continually abuses the other to try and get the sympathy card from the friend or the admission - yeh you are right he/she is a "blah". I don´t fall for it any more - usually tell them to lay off or I just walk away..

trinity67 said...

Yep. Recently I had dinner at my girlfriend's house and watched while her husband of thirteen years belittled her, repeatedly. Stupid bully.

victoria said...

All you can do is respond to such a person with your true reaction (dismay, a frown, recoiling away).

I know I would have appreciated it if people had piped in when this sort of thing happened to me (with a bf who made thinly veiled "jokes" about me in public).

All they had to say is, "dude, that's not funny" (or whatever applies) and change the subject. That would have stopped it right there.

It's never out of line to simply reject someone's abusive behavior.

Lyvvie said...

I'm told that in Japan there's a type of this where Mothers get together and try and argue who has the worst son. These kids can all be what we would consider great kids, but they might not have the best grades, or be the best athlete or keep the tidiest desk. To earn the sympathies of the other moms you have to work hard to show your son is truly worthless. Those poor boys!

Thanks everyone for chipping in. Now - what do we do about them? I like Victoria's advice to face it, even if it's just a shock-face or a "That's not appropriate conversation just now." or "Bitch you're killing the good mood! STFU, already!"

But i have to admit to having got nasty back and saying "REally? He's that bad? Funny, none of ex girlfriends used to complain about him being like that. Huh..." Which I know is so bad, so bad so bad!! But how else to point out that she's being being the problem?

jomamma said...

We had company over last Saturday and the wife of one of the guys has just stopped wearing her wig after chemo/radiation for Breast Cancer. Her cousin wanted me to take a picture of them together and the wife said "no he doesn't like the way I look in pictures!" I told her "screw him, what's he got to do with this?" She later said "he doesn't like my hair short." To which I said "let him go through what you went through and then we'll see how he feels." He's such an ass. I can feel it coming, if they visit much, sooner or later I'm going to tell him off.

ree said...

Yes, I know what you're talking about. My sister-in-law does this.

I feel sorry for the guys involved (okay, except maybe my brother, because he's no better than she is).

I believe my husband is my best friend and biggest supporter. Why would I want to jeopardize that?

Dingo said...

Some people just want to draw you into their drama. I don't know if it's supposed to build an us v. them sort of camaraderie to get others to agree to your spouse bashing but it's deplorable. No one ever joins in and the complainer ends up looking like a jerk.

Lyn Cash said...

oh yeah - you hit that nail on the head - what is sad is when they don't realize they're jerks - what is pathetic and demoralizing is when they DO realize it and don't change their behavior.

haven't been online in a while (sick) and missed reading you, so I'm off to read a bit more.

have a good weekend...

BlazngScarlet said...

It IS abuse, and like most abuse, is all about control.
I make an off handed comment, like you, about how his/her exs never complained of said bad deed.
Yes, it's a horrible thing to consciously put someone else in such a bad light, but what they doing to their spouse/SO is no better.
I don't tolerate abuse.

Maja said...

Reading this post gave me a feeling of dread in my stomach and I thought it must be because I've done this to Jason before, but then I realised that it was because my ex used to do it to me!

I've never really thought about this kind of behaviour before so I'm glad you wrote about it because now I will be able to identify it if I'm ever in that situation and I can tell the person doing it to stop instead of feeling awkward about it and staying silent.

jomamma said...

If we just think about it this way: I wouldn't allow a stranger/enemy to treat me that way, or talk to me that way, nor would I allow a stranger/enemy to talk to my spouse that way. Why am I letting the person that is supposed to love me do this to me? If it hurts you (and your feelings) in anyway you should say so.
Maybe they didn't realize that little jab hurt your feelings. But if you don't say something it gets worse with every time after that.

Nej said...

I know exactly what you're talking about. And, I may have even been that person way back when. It's amazing the things you learn as you get older. I didn't know what I was doing, until I saw someone else doing it. Crazy!

When you confront them and tell them it's not appropriate, he'll take offense that you said it to her. Because he's trying to impress her. And he knows that she'll be b*tching about it later that night when the friends are gone. It's pretty much a lose lose situation.

Although, I will say, in allot of cases, the friends that are hanging around set the tone....and she just joins in. Granted, you've all been friends for quite some time, and she's the newbie. But, she IS picking up on the vibe in the group.

I've learned something from being on both sides of the fence on this issue. That's for sure. :-)