Men crave respect. Your husband desperately needs to know that you are proud of who he is, and that you think he is honorable and respectable. The way you talk about him reflects on him. Both in front of him and behind his back.
While I recognize this is a problem for both husbands and wives, I'd like to address wives in this article. So here are a few ways you can quickly ruin your relationship with your husband and a few things I've learned about treating my husband in public:
Wrecking his public image
I find that the tone I use to speak about someone behind their back influences the tone I use with them in person. Beware of "venting" because it rarely stops there, but it continues to taint your interactions with them later.
You don't get to complain about him and his flaws publicly
. If I share any of Ben's shortcomings, it happens in a situation of counsel. It's rare, and it's private. We've mutually decided it's OK to share the other's flaws in two situations. The first is if we are helping someone through a marital problem with lessons we have learned. The second is when we are seeking counsel about being a better spouse.
So to boost his public image, you need to brag on him. Even the simple stuff! While there may be things in our marriage that have become pet-peeves, or that I find annoying, that's not the public image that I want for Ben. My speech should honor him and make others see the things that I respect about him. I married REALLY well, and others should know that I don't take it for granted! Show others how much they should respect your spouse by setting the example.
Wrecking his self-esteem
You don't get to make fun of him – leave the jokes about your husband up to him. Harmless joking can turn hurtful or turn HIM into the punch line if wives aren't careful. Even if your husband can take jokes pretty well, it's not your job to make them.
Never say anything that will embarrass him. After we get home from a party or dinner, I like to just check in and ask if I said anything that embarrassed him. We even have a list of specific stories that are off limits because one of us will feel humiliated if they get brought up. Remember, your spouse gets to be the judge of whether they found something embarrassing or not.
If you ever notice that you said something which shamed your spouse, immediately apologize in front of the people that heard it. You also need to extend a very sincere private apology later.
Wrecking your intimacy
Guess what – kissing and telling is bad! It shouldn't be public knowledge what your sex life is like.
You don't get to share information unless you have talked beforehand and mutually agreed on what stories and details can be shared – and with what kind of audience. It needs to be innocent humor or helpful to build the marriages of others. And there are some stories, jokes, or problems in the bedroom that need to be for you two only. The longer we are married, more codes and inside jokes are created, bringing us closer together. The sweetness of some things will only be lessened when you share them. Inside jokes bring the people on the inside closer together. So don't let anyone else inside!
Likewise, don't be afraid to get help (from appropriate sources like doctors, counselors, trustworthy mentors, or confidential friends) for personal issues, but don't allow sharing to wreck your intimacy.
Few things plague me as much as the times when I have hurt Ben by how I treated him in public. My heart breaks for couples who struggle with their public interactions, shaming or embarrassing the other at the expense of making a joke or improperly airing conflict.
You have incredible power to encourage
(or wreck) your husband by the way you talk about him to others. When we treat each other well, especially in public, we can develop a deep closeness and bring a lasting respect to our relationship.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Jo Cross' blog, Real Married Life. It has been republished here with permission.