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Accidental Disrespect

Portrait of a couple

Accidental Disrespect

Are You Accidentally Disrespecting the Man In Your Life?

I’ll tell it to you like this: It’s hard to be married to a marriage therapist. Yet, my husband does it very well.

This is an example of our lives that happened THIS WEEK. Unvarnished. Unedited. This is real life with me.

Wednesday night, we went to a crawfish boil with our small group at church. It was awesome.

On our way home, my husband, Chad, realized he left his Apple Watch with our friend, who kindly took it off of his wrist while he had nasty crawfish hands. We considered turning around but we were already about half an hour away from the party and our son was quickly losing his pleasant personality, ready for bed. I got to thinking, texted our friend, and made a plan for me to drive to her work during my lunch break.

Later on, I was about to hop in the shower and I asked Chad off-handedly to get me a towel from the linen closet. He replied with an unexpected and frustrated, “You know you ask me to do stuff for you ALL THE TIME?” <Scowl>

I was instantly very irritated. I didn’t want to get into right before bed, and one of us got me a towel. I really don’t remember whom.

Flash forward to the following morning. He snoozed through his 5:30am alarm for the *second* morning in a row. I was so irritated! I didn’t need to get up until 7:00am. And once I’m up, I’m UP. Second morning in a row. I laid there, fuming, for a few minutes. Angrily huffing…probably in a “kinda cute” way. I was intentionally flopping around like a fish out of water, being annoying. Eventually I got up and went to the bathroom. While in there, I remembered how irritated I was about the towel issue the night before.

I decided 5:36am was the best time to address this issue. So genius! (I am a marriage therapist, after all.) A few moments later, I flopped back into bed and announced, “Hey. I’m mad about last night when you said that I ask you to do stuff for me all the time. You don’t ask me to do stuff for you all the time because I do things for you without being asked. Like driving out of my way on my lunch break to get your Apple Watch that you forgot last night. Nobody had to ask me to do it. I just decided to do it to be nice and helpful. And you couldn’t walk 10 steps to get me a towel.” Suddenly, he decided he wasn’t sleepy anymore, and got out of bed to get ready for work. Why, though?? I was being so pleasant. Weird. (At least One of us was exercising some sound mind and self-control.)

Later that morning, he sent me the following text, verbatim:

When I said, “you always ask me to do things,” I just meant when I’m in the middle of a task, and then you asked for something, I have to stop what I’m doing to do that.
I don’t mean to minimize what you do for me.

To which, I skillfully responded:

I can actually see how that can feel disrespectful of what you’re doing and I’m sorry. I didn’t think about that.

So…as you can see, I’m very easy to live with and practice what I preach 100% of the time!

The truth is that I hadn’t even realized that he was doing anything when I asked him to get me a towel. I was just focused on my own need and hadn’t really paid attention to anything going on for him.

This whole scenario served as a CLEAR reminder that as women, we often unknowingly disrespect the men in our lives. And when disrespected, instead of articulating their feelings in the moment, they often respond in anger, irritation or frustration. Most men will NEVER state that the felt disrespected, especially for these “smaller” infractions. To articulate that feeling is like a double hit to the ego: they feel like they’d be jerks to demand respect and they feel winey to bring it up.

While this couldn’t be further form reality as far as I’m concerned, it’s the roadblock that most men run into.

The problem then becomes that these “minor” infractions of disrespect go unaddressed, and instead of just magically dissolve, they actually accumulate over time and cause tension and walls. Sadly, when combined with the fact that most men feel like a failure a home, this encourages the men in our lives to shut down, not communicate and build resentments.

It wouldn’t be a fun exercise, but it would be enlightening, if the next time your man responds in irritation with something, ask him if he feels disrespected. Did you low-grade correct him? Second guess his opinion or judgement? Interrupt a task or project? Ignore his feelings?

Your question will surprise him, but his answer will surprise you even more. Simply listen, don’t justify, minimize or argue, and start to come up with a game plan to keep these types of unintended disrespects at bay. He may or may not thank you for it verbally, but you’ll all be better off for using your words to honor and respect your man rather than inadvertently chip away at what you’re working hard to build!

If this is a struggle for you in your relationship, let’s talk about it! I can be found here. and in my counseling offices in Walker, Louisiana and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Beautiful photo by: Thanasis Zovoilis