Stop Tolerating Bad Behavior. As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I hear many stories about tolerating bad behavior within a primary relationship. Generally speaking, – if you can’t or won’t tell your partner – their behavior is unacceptable then you will be complicit in allowing them to carry on as they have. You must be assertive in order to effect change, otherwise, you will remain stuck in an unhappy and unfulfilling relationship. Hoping “things” will improve on their own is not a strategy; it only means you’re in denial. Poor self-esteem and codependency on your part may be the problem and can fuel your partner’s desire to “act-out unacceptably.”
I worked with a couple where the husband left his wife and 7-year-old daughter for his mistress. His reasons for leaving his marriage are symptoms of underlying issues that we continue to explore. After “sacrificing so much” to be with his mistress, he now confesses there are similar problems with his new relationship, which, of course, has a lot of innate stressors because of the way it evolved. He struggles to manage his emotional reactions to his new reality and often “acts out.” Rather than develop the self-focus and insight needed to develop better coping skills and move forward, he defaults to his normal bad behavior. In doing so he is now sabotaging a new relationship, one that he acquired at great personal cost, and he does not hesitate to remind his mistress of that fact whenever he doesn’t get what he wants. This habitually manipulative strategy is threatening his new relationship.
For a relationship to work, the people involved need to learn to self-soothe in distressful situations. This removes detrimental “acting out” behavior from the equation so the couplehood can reap the benefits of mature, respectful behavior. Healthy relationships do not tolerate abuse of any kind; instead, they encourage open communication where the partners can freely express their thoughts and feelings and ask for what they need and want without being shamed or punished for it.
What to do if you’ve been tolerating bad behavior:
- Give your partner the opportunity to make the necessary adjustments.
- Give them time to demonstrate either their ability or incapability to make those adjustments.
- If change isn’t happening determine whether there is a “can’t” or “won’t” factor.
- Then call me at (858) 7351139.
If the acting out partner cannot or will not make the necessary adjustments for learning to behave appropriately, there is poor prognosis for moving forward.
As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I believe we need to give our partners a reasonable amount of time to adjust their behavior before deciding whether to stay or go. There may even be neurological circumstances that preclude behavioral adjustments. All avenues should be investigated before accusing your partner of simply not wanting to change.
If your partner is acting out, ask yourself why you’re in that relationship. Remember, you can’t control or change anyone but yourself; if you think otherwise, – you may be “codependent” and will need help managing that. Codependent people tolerate bad behavior for a variety of reasons; fear of abandonment, fear of the grief and loss process, low self-esteem and self-worth, etc.
For more about making the choice not to tolerate bad behavior and making better choices for yourself call me at (858) 735-1139