Eye-rolling and other ways to ruin a marriage

There is usually not much about “The Bachelor” on ABC that is uplifting. I think we can all agree on that, right? That doesn’t stop me from watching it occasionally and judging the women while counting the times someone uses the phrases “We have a connection” and “She’s not here for the right reasons.”

But, while watching a snippet of the show last week I found a little gem — a morsel of truth and enlightenment amidst the banality that is “The Bachelor.”

It was something one of the girls said while on a date with the bachelor. She said, “My dad adores my mom. She could be completely wrong in every sense, but my dad supports her and he is always on her side. No matter what.”

Of course she said this while in a bikini and about five minutes before she was in full-on make out mode, but that didn’t take away from what she said. When she spoke of how her dad supports her mom without question, even when he knows she is 100 percent wrong, it hit home for me. That is the kind of spouse I want to be.

I am not currently this kind of spouse.

Supporting my husband publicly is something I struggle to do well. I poke fun. I roll my eyes. I discuss his flaws with other people. I don’t hesitate to contradict him in public and point out when he is wrong.

I am fully aware these are all horrible qualities and habits that lead to unhappy marriages. But, I am working on them. I wish I were more supportive naturally — like my husband is with me.

That being said, I have a wonderful marriage, and I have strengths in other areas as a spouse. I support my husband on the big issues. But when the bikini-clad girl spoke of her parents, I remembered again how essential it is to support one another – always and in small, daily ways. I’m not talking about any huge gestures here but suppressing an eye-roll now and then or biting my tongue could go a long way.

So, thank you, insightful bachelorette. I feel you don’t really have a connection with the bachelor, and you are not on the show for the right reasons, but thank you for that little reminder that I need to be on my husband’s side all day, every day.

How do you show support to your spouse? Do you struggle like I do with public criticism of your husband or wife?

9 comments

  1. John Charity Spring

    How disappointing it is to learn that Stewart is watching a so-called show as reprehensible as the Bachelor. The Bachelor is little more than an outright promotion of unrestrained, wanton sexuality. Of course, what is even more distressing is that Stewart is like so many other youngsters who turn to shows like the Bachelor for marriage advice.

    Stewart has unwittingly pointed out the hypocrisy of modern anti-male society. It is considered perfectly acceptable for a wife to denigrate and make fun of her husband in public, while a husband would be swiftly and severely condemned for even mildly disagreeing with his wife in public. Surprisingly, Stewart would rather join the hip crowd of husband bashers than build a loving relationship.

    Spouses cannot have even a semblance of a loving relationship when they make fun of each other in public. Stewart may claim that she has not harmed her marriage by ridiculing her husband, but the truth is that he has probably been so beaten down by public criticism that he has given up resistance and decided that it is best to pretend that everything is alright for the time being.

    • Erin Stewart

      Thanks for your comments. I did want to point out, however, that the point of today’s blog was that I am redoubling my efforts to not be so critical of my husband. I fully understand such criticism is bad for a marriage and has likely harmed mine. I’m hopeful that it’s not permanent harm, though, and that I will be successful in my commitment to be more supportive. Surely no marriage is perfect from the start, so I’m sure I am in good and plenty of company among people who are working daily to improve themselves and their marriages.

      • John Charity Spring

        No doubt Stewart truly means well and wants a good marriage. It is really too bad that she and so many other young wives turn to popular culture for marriage advice. The vast majority of popular culture encourages the criticizing of husbands in public. If these young wives must turn to popular culture for advice, they would be better off to ditch the Bachelor and listen to “It’s hard to kiss the lips at night… “, by the Notorious Cherry Bombs. This song gives a much more accurate picture of the results of public criticism.

  2. Danny Chipman

    I’d be curious to hear from Mrs. John Charity Spring–just how perfect is YOUR spouse?

    I personally wouldn’t waste my time with TV shows like The Bachelor, but even the “wicked” can get things right sometimes…rain (and dew) falls on them same as us.

  3. Momof7

    I had an experience before I started dating my husband that helped me realize how damaging it is to demean others. When others are talking negatively about their husbands I either don’t participate or try to say something nice about mine. I’m certainly not perfect. My mother taught me that complimenting my husband would get me a lot further than criticizing him would. I don’t use compliments as a tool to get what I want but he knows I love him and he wants to please me because of that. In the reverse, I know he loves me and I want to please him.

  4. citygrrl

    I don’t think this issue is quite as sweeping as you are making it out to be, Erin. That said, I commend you for recognizing that putting your husband down in public is very destructive. I have great respect and love for my husband, but I have criticized him (not in front of others) when I felt that he might do or say something that could harm or hurt others, or damage his career. Perhaps I am misconstruing the word “criticism,” but Erin, if you felt your husband was way off the mark, wouldn’t you say something? And wouldn’t you want him to say something if you were out of line? Sometimes we need someone who loves us to say, “hey, wait a minute, here’s another way to look at this.” And I agree with you, Mom of 7, that it’s important to compliment a spouse — not in a hollow way, but to let them know that we recognize what we appreciate in them. I think the bottom line is the people closest to us really rise or sink to our expectations of them. So if you want to be treated in a loving way, you need to express your confidence in your spouse’s ability to provide it.

    • Erin Stewart

      Great points, and I completely agree with you. I think my problem is the public aspect of the criticism. My husband is great at waiting until we are alone to tell me something I could improve. And even then, he does it in a way that doesn’t make me defensive.

  5. Erin R.

    Wow, that took a lot of bravery to admit! Many people do or have done what you describe, including me at the beginning of my marriage. It is hard to hear someone criticize their spouse or kids right in front of them and I think it’s neat that you recognized the potential harm in your own actions. I do “vent” about my husb to my mom and sisters sometimes but am careful not to be nasty or disparaging. It helps me get things off my chest without him ever knowing and I’m able to avoid nagging or blasting him. But I did struggle with the public criticisms at first. Everyone has their behaviors they struggle with and hopefully most of the time can stop short of truly hurting those they love. I’m glad you brought this to our attention, it’s a great reminder to me to watch my mouth and my temper!

  6. runninrick

    First, I would recommend to everyone not to ever reply to JCS. Pretty clear he is just a troll trying to get a rise out of everyone, so best just to ignore him.

    I think it is interesting that Dr. Gottman, one of the leading researchers of marital relationships, has said that contempt is the best predictor of divorce. What is contempt? Thinking you are better than your spouse. How is it manifest? Eye-rolling. So eye-rolling can be a big problem! I know as a husband it’s pretty humiliating to get the message that your spouse thinks you are below her. Same thing with backseat driving. Such a little thing, but what it communicates is that you think you’re a better driver than your spouse, even though they have been driving since they were 16.

    Here’s some clips of Gottman talking about his research. It’s also in Gladwell’s Blink book:
    http://www.andersoncooper.com/2012/04/17/dr-gottman-four-negative-patterns-that-predict-divorce/

    That being said, not being defensive and admitting you are wrong is one of the great keys to a great marriage. So we can all be pretty rotten spouses sometimes, but if we can admit our faults and try to get better, admitting we need to be better, then you’re probably doing great!

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