No matter how long you have been in a relationship with your spouse, hurting their self-esteem is unhealthy for your relationship.
You don’t talk to your spouse anyhow and expect them to yield to your demands. You don’t belittle your spouse and expect them to be happy. You don’t call them names whenever you are angry and still expect your relationship to be fine. Things don’t work that way.
How do you treat your partner? How do you talk to them? How do you handle issues affecting them? Do you even listen when they are talking? Do you bark orders at your spouse?
Do you belittle your spouse? Do you body shame them? Do you allow your family and friends insult your spouse whenever they feel like it? Do you wave aside your partner’s suggestions and dismiss their fears?
All these things affect your spouse’s self-esteem and it will ultimately rub off on your relationship wrongly. There will be anger and resentment festering till things blow out of proportion if things don’t change.
Self-esteem can take years to build, but it takes only days to destroy it. That’s why it’s important to make sure you are not hurting your partner’s self-esteem with your words and actions. Don’t say that they should suck it in, your spouse will explode one day and it won’t be good for either of you.
While it is your partner’s responsibility to work on their own issues with low self-esteem, it is also your duty as a caring partner to make that process as easy as possible.
There are things you do and say that can have a negative impact on your partner’s self-esteem, and many of them are things that are so common that you don’t realize you are hurting them.
One of the ways you can be hurting your partner’s self-esteem is through negative body language. Body language is powerful. Often, it’s more powerful than words when it comes to healthy communication. Your eye rolls might just mean “I think what you just said is ridiculous,” but it’s easy to take it as “you are an idiot.”
Looking at your phone when your partner is talking, and generally looking disinterested are also ways you could be subtly sending signals that come across as “I don’t care” or “stop talking” or worse. Be mindful of your body language. You shouldn’t be treating your spouse shabbily.
Making all the decisions and informing your spouse about it, later on, is not right. Some Nigerian men are fond of this. They don’t carry their wives along when making decisions about important things and they wonder why these women are cold towards them.
Even if you have a partner who doesn’t like to make decisions, both of you should participate in the decision-making process. If you make all the decisions, just because that’s what you do, you could be sending the message that your partner doesn’t make good decisions, isn’t smart enough to make the right decisions, or has opinions that don’t matter.
Always questioning your spouse’s decisions is not good for your relationship. When one partner always questions the choices of the other, that partner can start to think that they are not capable of making good choices. Apply this to bigger decisions, like jobs, schools, parenting, and where to live, and you could be doing real damage to your spouse’s confidence.
Interrupting your spouse is rude. Interrupting your spouse when they are talking makes them feel like you weren’t listening, and that what they have to say isn’t important. If this keeps happening in your marriage, your spouse could recoil and stop talking because there’s no point for them to continue.
Avoid jokes that reduce your partner’s self-esteem. If you need to use a bad joke that insults your partner to get your message across, then you need to work on your communication skills because when it happens too often, it starts to negatively impact your partner’s self-esteem.
You might think it’s funny to post something embarrassing your partner did on social media or discuss your partner’s bad habits with their family and friends, but you could actually be making your partner feel terrible.
You should be your partner’s cheerleader and not expose his/her weaknesses to the world without talking to him/her first about it. If you are fond of this, you are disrespecting your partner. You need to stop shaming your spouse. Your marriage doesn’t need that.
Being lazy about things that matter to your partner, whether it’s about chores when you promised you would help or about being a more affectionate, attentive partner, sends the message that your partner and their needs are not worth your effort. It can be a big blow to their self-esteem.
Many marriages have been destroyed by selfishness. When you won’t compromise on issues, do something your partner wants you to do, put your relationship first, you are sending a message that your partner isn’t worth your effort. It makes your partner feel like he/she is low on your priority list.
You are also hurting your partner’s self-esteem when you refuse to trash out issues affecting your relationship. If you always shut down, or keep saying things like “I’m not arguing about this with you” you are sending the message that you are always right, or that you don’t care what your partner has to say. That can fuel a sense of worthlessness in your partner. You don’t have to fight, but you should let your partner have his/her say too.
Taking out your stress on your partner is bad for your relationship. If you are stressed about money, upset about work, or worried about something, it’s not cool to take it out on your partner. When you are always sad, snappy, or impatient, you could be making your partner feel like it’s their fault, or that they can’t make you happy.
Saying no to every idea your partner has is not encouraging or supportive, and that can damage their self-esteem. For your spouse, months and years of hearing no every time they suggest something to you will make them resentful towards you.
If you go behind your partner and re-check or re-do everything they just did, you are sending the message that they don’t ever do things right. It is okay to double check things once in a while, especially if there’s a safety issue at hand, but if the job is good enough, there’s no need to undermine your partner’s efforts.
If you know you are guilty of some or all of the things listed above, you need to change. Stop taking your spouse for granted.
Re: MEN, IT’S TIME TO RUN FOR DEAR LIFE
Kate, kudos for a job well done. This is a masterpiece. The reasoning, the judgment, and insight are superb. You are a very reasonable and wonderful personality. Keep it up. -Dr. F.C Onyido
I suffered emotional abuse that I almost ran mad. Truly, it was a terrible experience that I wouldn’t wish even my enemy. Well done my sister. -Evang. Emma, Suleja
I read your article and it was really touching but running away is not the solution. We have to investigate why violence is on the rise now between spouses. -Adam Ahmad, Jos
There is no justification for domestic violence. Marriage is not a do-or-die affair. If you feel threatened by your spouse, take a walk. It is better to leave than to commit a crime. No one has right over another person’s life. You are doing a great job, Kate. -Teniola Osoba, Abeokuta
I’m still wondering why he didn’t leave after the first attack, maybe he thought she is just a mere woman and underestimated her. This is more than a text message issue. This is a case of deep-rooted resentment and hatred for her husband. The guy should have just walked away from this evil of a woman. -Sylvia John, Bayelsa
Kate, well done as you continue to deal with marital and relationship realities, not fables. I commend you for your focus and steadfastness in your writings, and your refusal to be derailed by some of your readers who are yet to understand the peculiarity of your message. No reasonable man should allow himself to be killed by the raging partner. If the two can no longer agree, they should go their separate ways. Clinging to the cliche “till death do us part” may be disastrous. -Tony, Umuahia
Kate, you made my day last Saturday, you were on point.
Men should be very careful and should not take their violent wife or girlfriend for granted. Many of us see the handwriting on the wall but fail to take action, probably because of blind love. You said it all. One doesn’t deserve to be killed by his or her partner in the name of love or marriage. Tell them if they will hear. Bravo! -Chinedu Uzoeshi, Abuja
Sometimes, crimes against men go unnoticed because men themselves won’t speak up against it. The double standards of women and silence of men enable violence against men. -Salome Dadzie, Lagos.