Stop Tolerating Bad Behavior

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:

  1. Give your partner the opportunity to make the necessary adjustments.
  2. Give them time to demonstrate either their ability or incapability to make those adjustments.
  3. If change isn’t happening determine whether there is a “can’t” or “won’t” factor.
  4. 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

Stop Accepting Bad Behavior

Stop Accepting Bad Behavior.  My husband has a spinster aunt who drives us all nuts.  She tends to control everyone and every situation.  Annoying is putting it nicely.  I understand she means well but doesn’t have the tools to express herself appropriately making for some very trying situations. I am planning a birthday party for my mother-in-law and she too has an upcoming birthday within the same period of time.  I sent out invitations as I was planning the event.  Unbeknownst to me she takes it upon herself to send out her own invitation to her side of the family (paternal members who reside in the midwest) and announces it is a dual celebration so as not to inconvenience any of them into making two trips to San Diego.

As you can imagine when I received her invite I was not only confused but a bit perturbed. She meddles without understanding the ramifications of her behavior and doesn’t realize when she offends or hurts someone’s feelings.  You would think at age 89 she would have evolved into a more age appropriate person and not act out so much as to appear like a 5 year-old child or adolescent teenager when expressing and managing her emotions.

Her entire family tends to ignore this bad behavior and continue to make excuses about it. This enabling doesn’t ever give the person behaving badly the opportunity to learn and get better.  It creates a lot of stress for me and my family as my husband and I do not enjoy most of their family get togethers because she is ALWAYS at them doing “her thing.”

In Marriage Counseling I help my couples acquire and implement tools to effectively communicate and assert themselves.  I use a 3-step process in which to discuss a problem or issue.

1) State your problem

2) Discuss from the standpoint of your Mature Self

3) Tell the person what you want from them or how you want them to feel afterwards.

So using the 3-step process I sent her this message to bring to her attention her interference and what I wanted from her in the future.

Dear _____;

“I understand some people have a conflict with the date due to personal obligations.  I informed (my in-laws) during a family get together when they were here in San Diego that if those who couldn’t attend wanted to do an alternate birthday celebration for (my mother-in-law) they certainly were free to do that.  With your birthday a couple of months later those same people could celebrate yours then, as well.

I had no idea you wanted to combine the parties.  I don’t mind doing that.  The problem I have is that no one shared that information with me or (my husband).   (Other family members) called me this week confused and I didn’t know what to tell him.

In the future would you please communicate your thoughts and feelings to people involved in the process.  I would appreciate the consideration with a “heads up” as I am spearheading the party.  I make a living teaching people how to effectively communicate and when I am involved in matters where there is ineffective communication I become very disenchanted.  Please be mindful in the future that appropriate behavior would be appreciated.

Thank you for your time in reading this.

Take care.”

This woman did apologize for her behavior.  I was happy she received the note with an open mind and hope she learned something from it.  The important part to this process was I needed to let her know how I felt and she needed to know what she did was not appropriate or acceptable.  Teaching people how to behave around you is crucial to your well being as it is to their learning curve to exercise better behavior.

For more information on how to become a more effective communicator please contact me at (858) 735-1139.