Why Does Marriage Kill Manners

Question: Dear Luise: The guy I dated was polite and considerate…attentive. We saw each other for about ten months, pretty constantly. We went to each other’s homes and mingled with family. We went out to eat and to shows. We danced, went to church and visited friends. All during that time, he was very well mannered. Then we married. Well, let me tell you that I now share my life with a belching, scratching stranger who talks with his mouth full and who thinks nothing of passing gas in my presence. All of a sudden I am invisible, unimportant or something equally as flattering. He actually laughs at my complaints and then adds, “Get over it!” What happened? Linda

Answer: Dear Linda: I have had a number of women write to me in a similar vein. No men, however, have complained about uncouth wives. This is something you wouldn’t even think of addressing during your engagement, since it wasn’t an issue. It sounds like your guy won the fair maiden by acting like a prince and now it’s frog time. You honestly can’t do much if he doesn’t respect your feelings. Some men think such behavior is funny. Others are just not interested in how they affect those around them. A few like to do it to get a rise out of a dissenter.

You are going to have to see if the pros outweigh the cons. Are you still in love with him? Does he show that he still loves you? It looks like he’s not going to change, so take stock and see what else is positive? This kind of behavior is very common in adolescent boys. Do you have a perpetual kid on your hands who doesn’t want to grow up? Certainly his conduct is a strong statement, since you have asked him to cease and desist without success. He may have grown up in a home where such habits were seen as natural and to be expected. Absolutes are often just perspectives, not rights or wrongs.

What does the other side of the coin look like? Does he complain about your being different after marriage? Are his complaints valid? What have you done about it? No one is perfect, including you.

If the two of you can’t discuss this, it may be marriage counselor time. My sense is that you would ignore it, if you could. The important thing, now, is to not become a seething, negative and reactive person. Know that your feelings matter. Don’t let it drop. Blessings, Luise

2 Responses to Why Does Marriage Kill Manners

  1. E. December 24, 2009 at 12:31 am #

    Dear Luise: Tonight my husband and I went to dinner with another couple. After dinner, we walked to our cars and my husband walked out of the restaurant and to the car about fifteen to twenty feet ahead of me the entire time. The other couple got into their car which was about 8 parking spaces before ours, and my husband just kept walking ahead. I finally called out to him as our friends put their car in drive, at this point he was about to get into the car. He shouted that he was going to start the car. I kept walking to the car and then got in and sat for a moment and told him that I would appreciate it if he would have walked with me, not walked ahead of me, etc. He told me that I was out of place and being ridiculous. I do not think so……….I would like to be treated like a lady. He insisted that I was wrong to say anything to him and said that he will never walk ahead of me again because he will never go anywhere again with me. I think he is being a baby. We did not speak all the way home and he went to bed and I thought that I should ask you what you think about the situation? E.

    • Luise December 24, 2009 at 10:14 am #

      One thing we can never do is monitor or change the behavior of others. We can say how we feel but even then, we have to be responsible for our feelings and not blame someone else for them. Another person might not have been bothered by your husband’s behavior at all. Another wife might have smiled and thought how silly he looked having his little snit. Still another might have been sympathetic, etc.

      Something was bothering him and that’s the way he expressed it. Certainly not very mature or courteous, that’s true. On the other hand, it wasn’t very wise to confront and criticize him at that point. What followed was to be expected. He was seething about something and obviously wasn’t open to being called on it. Look closely and you will see that your behavior wasn’t very mature or understanding, either.

      When you both cool down, ask him what was the matter and see if you can talk about a better way for both of you to work through such issues. Criticism and ultimatums don’t resolve conflict. Make a point of talking about public displays that are either meant to humiliate or are fueled by selfishness without any consideration regarding how they might be experienced. He was making a statement of some kind and so were you by taking him on. None of it was very effective.

      An onlooker might have seen a tantrum and a pout. See if you can find the humor in it and laugh at yourselves.

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