Author Topic: When someone is rude to your spouse or partner  (Read 6854 times)

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Jeremy

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When someone is rude to your spouse or partner
« on: January 11, 2013, 08:34:41 AM »
There was a posting on the main blog page the other day that got me thinking about how you should react if somebody is rude to or insults your spouse or partner while they're with you.  Fortunately it doesn't happen to my wife and me very often, but I know from past experience that if someone treats her rudely, insults her or is hurtful to her in some way I often feel compelled to say something to defend her or let the other person know how far out of line they were.  My wife doesn't always like me doing this, but I feel a bit disloyal to her if I don't say something.  So what actually is the best way to react in this situation?  Is it better to speak up, or should you keep quiet in these situations?  What do we all think?

TurtleDove

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Re: When someone is rude to your spouse or partner
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2013, 09:03:01 AM »
I strongly believe any rudeness should be addressed by the person who was treated rudely and SOs should stay out of it aside from backing up the wronged party. I can handle myself; I don't need my SO to be the reason I am treated appropriately.

Hmmmmm

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Re: When someone is rude to your spouse or partner
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2013, 09:19:25 AM »
I think it depends on the degree of the insult.  If a true insult to the point that relationships will be impacted, then I agree that SO or close friends are fine and even expected to defend the insulted party. 

But say a man makes an off color comment to me in passing.  I'm perfectly capable of handling and I don't need my DH to interfere.  If the comments continued after i said something, i woukd be fine with DH engaging just like i would be fine with a friend also speaking up. 

However, if a similar comment was made to my teen daughter, I would fully expect my DH to say something to the stranger immediately.  It might be humorous, as in, "Do you realize you just propositioned a 16 yr old in front of her over protective father" but it might also be much more direct.

Jeremy

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Re: When someone is rude to your spouse or partner
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2013, 10:32:40 AM »
Good points!  The urge to charge in on a white horse and try and make everything better can be very strong, but I think you're both right that it's often the wrong thing to do, however much you want to put the rude person in their place.  I will always back my wife up if she needs it, but sometimes it can be hard to know how to strike a good balance between giving moral support and interfering!

However, if a similar comment was made to my teen daughter, I would fully expect my DH to say something to the stranger immediately.  It might be humorous, as in, "Do you realize you just propositioned a 16 yr old in front of her over protective father" but it might also be much more direct.

Yes, definitely.  I don't want my daughters ever to feel that they can't rely on me if somebody is giving them a hard time or harrassing them in some way.

Sharnita

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Re: When someone is rude to your spouse or partner
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2013, 10:38:58 AM »
I think that if you love somebody - spouse, child, parent, friend - it is painful to you to hear/see them treated disrespectfully.  You want to draw boundaries not just to protect them but to make it clear what you yourself can/will tolerate.

Shoo

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Re: When someone is rude to your spouse or partner
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2013, 10:41:35 AM »
I think that if you love somebody - spouse, child, parent, friend - it is painful to you to hear/see them treated disrespectfully.  You want to draw boundaries not just to protect them but to make it clear what you yourself can/will tolerate.

I agree.  If my husband comes to my defense, it's not because I can't stand up for myself.  It's because he loves me and his natural instinct is to protect me.  He's chivalrous, which is a trait too few men possess these days, in my opinion.

Dindrane

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Re: When someone is rude to your spouse or partner
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2013, 10:53:36 AM »
I think it's important to listen to your spouse's opinion, when it comes to defending him/her.

In general, I do think it's a very natural impulse to feel protective when someone has insulted (or otherwise hurt) someone you care about. On the other hand, there are situations where a person's spouse jumping in to defend him/her from an insult won't make the situation better, and might make it worse.

Personally, if my husband wants to defend me from the things his family and friends say (if they say something that is insulting or hurtful), more power to him. For things my family and friends say, however, I only appreciate his jumping in to defend me if he's very subtle about it. As in, they don't really know what he's done subtle. Otherwise, I'd prefer to handle it myself.

I do appreciate my husband telling me (in private) when he was offended on my behalf, though. At least to a point. As long as he doesn't dwell on it, it's nice to know when we have both reacted negatively to something a person has said. It can quickly become counter-productive, but having him tell me offhandedly that he didn't appreciate what my sibling/friend/parent said to me can be very helpful. It has helped me determine more accurately when I am being oversensitive, and when someone has said something that is legitimately off.


sweetonsno

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Re: When someone is rude to your spouse or partner
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2013, 04:14:12 PM »
If someone insulted me behind my back and my SO was present, I would absolutely want him to call out the offender. No, I don't want him to get into a brawl over it, but saying, "That's my girlfriend/wife, don't talk about her like that" is warranted.

However, in person, I'd rather he took his cues from me. If I have decided that the fool talking smack isn't worth a response, I don't want my snookums to give him/her the satisfaction of one. If I've told him to get lost, then my snookums just needs to reiterate that.

The problem with someone jumping in on my behalf while I'm there is that they may be unwittingly trying to tell me what is good for me or how I should behave. That's definitely not something that I want to have happen, especially not from someone I love.

I agree with Dindrane, though. . . even if I don't ask for help, I will appreciate someone telling me that they thought the other guy was out of line.

The bottom line is that one size does not fit all. You need to support your SO, but different people have a different idea of what "support" is. Best to chat with your partner about it and find out what works for them.

Allyson

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Re: When someone is rude to your spouse or partner
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2013, 08:16:13 PM »
Interesting topic! I pretty much fall into the 'back me up, but let me handle it' camp. I notice most of the comments are about a male partner defending a woman, though I'm sure it can happen the other way. I'd stand up for my boyfriend if someone made a nasty comment about him behind his back same as he would for me.  I know some people do enjoy the 'white knight' thing where a guy threatens physical violence over a verbal insult to a woman, but I find that really not cool, myself.

I also liked Dindrane's distinction. I think if it's the 'offended' partner's friends or family, they are more likely to be in a position to deal with it themself, but if it's the other person's friends or family, that's a little different.

In short, I want someone who'll have my back, but someone who will also respect my handling of a situation the way I choose.

oceanus

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Re: When someone is rude to your spouse or partner
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2013, 08:38:13 PM »
Hmmm.  I hesitate to respond because this is kind of a touchy subject with me – only because I gave a relative’s wife a (well-deserved) ‘dressing down’ a couple of years ago.  I was not rude, I didn’t insult her, and it was a long-time coming.  She didn;t reply, but her husband jumped into the fray and came to her defense, and I came right back at him with both barrels.  Then I washed my hands of both of them.  I’d had enough.

I’ve also seen and heard of many situations where someone was totally in the wrong and when confronted (even mildly) their partner or spouse or other member of their family jumps to their defense.

To answer your question, regarding insults, etc. I feel the partner/spouse should first allow the person to defend her/himself.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2013, 08:48:06 PM by oceanus »

Iris

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Re: When someone is rude to your spouse or partner
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2013, 09:13:41 PM »
If someone insulted me behind my back and my SO was present, I would absolutely want him to call out the offender. No, I don't want him to get into a brawl over it, but saying, "That's my girlfriend/wife, don't talk about her like that" is warranted.

However, in person, I'd rather he took his cues from me. If I have decided that the fool talking smack isn't worth a response, I don't want my snookums to give him/her the satisfaction of one. If I've told him to get lost, then my snookums just needs to reiterate that.

The problem with someone jumping in on my behalf while I'm there is that they may be unwittingly trying to tell me what is good for me or how I should behave. That's definitely not something that I want to have happen, especially not from someone I love.

I agree with Dindrane, though. . . even if I don't ask for help, I will appreciate someone telling me that they thought the other guy was out of line.

The bottom line is that one size does not fit all. You need to support your SO, but different people have a different idea of what "support" is. Best to chat with your partner about it and find out what works for them.

l think this is a great summary, especially the bolded. It works both ways too. I'm much more of a 'scrapper' than my husband, and if someone was rude to him in front of me he would rather I suppress my natural instinct and leave it to him. I will add though that once when we were dating a man committed a minor sexual assault on me within my now husband's sight. l did get a glimpse of the inner Neanderthal that time, but I also didn't really mind.

I always felt like this http://www.etiquettehell.com/?p=1753 story from the blog captured a great balance between protectiveness and respect.
"Can't do anything with children, can you?" the woman said.

Poirot thought you could, but forebore to say so.

LifeOnPluto

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Re: When someone is rude to your spouse or partner
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2013, 02:13:16 AM »
I agree that it depends on the situation. For example, I would not want my DF to "defend" me if it meant that he would be physically hurt.

And it also depends on the person who is "rude", and the context. For example, if my brother asked me (with a big cheeky grin on his face) whether I had my hair cut with a pair of whipper snippers, I wouldn't expect (or want) my DF to jump up and accuse my brother of being rude. That's because my brother and I have always had a teasing relationship, and I'd expect DF to know that by now.

Amava

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Re: When someone is rude to your spouse or partner
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2013, 02:59:15 AM »
Well, my husband and I both lean strongly towards "Complete silence towards rudeness" and "Don't feed the troll, don't engage the crazy" approach, so this doesn't come up often. We support each other by exchanging looks. From time to time, a well-placed "What an interesting assumption!" is thrown in, as well as a lot of bean dip.

He's better at this "silence is the strongest reaction" than I am, even. He's a very calm, strong, secure person. If anything, it's he who has taught me to stop *me* from going into a useless discussion with people who are "baiting"!

cicero

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Re: When someone is rude to your spouse or partner
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2013, 06:58:24 AM »
I think it depends on who is insulting but in general - it's great that you want to protect your wife, but if your wife doesn't like it, you should listen to your wife.

I am not married (now) but i didn't like my then-husband stepped in to "protect" me, it may me feel like he didn't respect me as an adult. I do't know if that is what your wife is feeling, but that is how i felt. I felt that if i need protection, then either *I* will protect myself or I will ask for help. by just stepping in, it made me feel like my own assessment of the situation was diminished.

Of course, if it is a serious, dangerous situation - then you step in.


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Winterlight

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Re: When someone is rude to your spouse or partner
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2013, 08:16:00 PM »
If someone insulted me behind my back and my SO was present, I would absolutely want him to call out the offender. No, I don't want him to get into a brawl over it, but saying, "That's my girlfriend/wife, don't talk about her like that" is warranted.

However, in person, I'd rather he took his cues from me. If I have decided that the fool talking smack isn't worth a response, I don't want my snookums to give him/her the satisfaction of one. If I've told him to get lost, then my snookums just needs to reiterate that.

The problem with someone jumping in on my behalf while I'm there is that they may be unwittingly trying to tell me what is good for me or how I should behave. That's definitely not something that I want to have happen, especially not from someone I love.

I agree with Dindrane, though. . . even if I don't ask for help, I will appreciate someone telling me that they thought the other guy was out of line.

The bottom line is that one size does not fit all. You need to support your SO, but different people have a different idea of what "support" is. Best to chat with your partner about it and find out what works for them.

Agreed. I also think that the partner jumping in can make the insulted person feel worse. "Great, not only am I being insulted but my partner doesn't think I can handle this myself."
If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
Caroline Lake Ingalls