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Hey sistahs! I'm Courtney Macavinta co-author of the best-selling book for teen girls RESPECT. Respect Rx, is my blog for young women, parents, teachers and girl advocates. Get the scoop on how to change your world—inside and out—through the Respect Basics.

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Abuse + Harm, Relationships, Women

My Husband Puts Me Down


My husband joined me in my business recently, and seems bent on proving to me that he is competent to run the business now and I am not. He cuts me down at nearly every opportunity and treats me with disrespect in so many subtle ways! I am losing confidence. What to do?

Rx: First, the good news: You already know you deserve better which is a Respect Basic. You know that what your husband is doing is disrespectful and you know your self-respect is on the line. Here are some steps you can take to speak up and make some changes:

Set some boundaries. Mixing business with marriage is never easy. But under all of our roofs—whether we live with roommates, partners, or other family members—we often have to cooperate to pay the bills, make dinner, clean the house, solve problems and plan for tomorrow. To protect your self-respect, for starters, think/journal about how you feel about your husband’s treatment. Also list the boundaries you want to set with him. Start with major disrespect dilemmas at the top of the list (like when he puts you down) and work down the list to the business issues (like what is the clear division of responsibilities going to be at the office?).

Speak up. Next, when you're ready, tell him how his treatment is making you feel [“(I feel (blank) when you (blank) and I want (blank to change in the following ways)”]. You might need more support from a therapist before you can draw the line—especially if underneath it all you feel unsafe around him. You might want to practice what you’ll say by writing it down in your journal. If your husband is someone you can work with on this, come up with mutually agreed upon terms for how you’ll cooperate in the future on the business front. This is easier said than done, I know. So you might also consider going to a marriage counselor who can help you work through these issues together (If he’s acting this way now, is it safe to say some of this behavior was going on before you became co-workers?).

Dig deep. In my own life, I’ve found that not dealing with my stuff (like growing up with family addicts and all the awesome;) stuff that comes along with that sich) messed with my “business” on the homefront. I could be controlling and critical and fearful on the drop of a dime. I needed to get help before I could create more respect in my heart and marriage (for me this has shaped up as therapy and support groups like Al-Anon and lots of open converations with people from my friends to my husband—I’m still working it, believe me!). Are there any Big Hurts that need your attention? E.g. the verbal abuse (and that's what I consider put-downs of any sort) from your husband is something I’d encourage you to get help around asap. Also, think about the consequences if things don’t change on the major issues, like [“If working together is going to cause all this stress on our relationship, and things don’t change, then maybe we shouldn’t work together...”].

Take care of you. In the meantime, each and every day take care of yourself (eat, sleep, have quiet time, walk). Focus on and soak in your passions—this builds your confidence, self-respect and resilience during hard times like these. Lastly, reach out to your sisters. Sisterhood is another respect basic and for good reason: When you are diminished, I am diminished. When you are successful, I am successful. Don’t be embarrassed to go to your girlfriends for shoulders to lean on and ears to bend. You’ll be surprised to learn how they struggle too, and that they will listen with open hearts. If you don’t have close friends, put this high on your list of things to do for you. Take a risk and start creating strong relationships (another basic) and speaking up with your friends about what’s really going on with you (yet another basic). We all need support on the path to respect—and that need never goes away.


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commentSheryl said:

I understand this situation - since I've been there many times. My husband also puts me down in varying ways. If it's not one thing it's another. The last issue was that I shouldn't be going down to breakfast in my pj's because I looked terrible. I took offense - you see part of it is recognizing it when it happens. I told him and those around me that his comments made me feel bad about myself. Other people heard what I said and they said well, I don't think he meant to make you feel that way.(Well, he did.)
that;s one thing. But the pointI'm trying to makd is that I was able to stand up for myself. It's difficult for someone who doesn't always recognize it and doesn't know how to make a comeback. I hope you'll recognize it for what it is and deal with it. Sheryl

February 10, 2007 09:50 PM

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