You’ve likely experienced it… the awkward feeling of being present for an argument between a dating, engaged, or married couple. Perhaps you are out to dinner with another couple when they turn on each other and start insulting everything from her cooking to his mama’s wig. Other than perhaps mentally giggling a bit from watching such a circus, we naturally begin to lose a little respect for them as a couple. And at a later date, when your relationship is going through a rough patch, you may not end up calling the couple that lost it with each other for advice. I was taught as a child that one aspect of what makes an adult different than a child is one’s ability to control themselves – especially in public.
It is natural to want others to corporately respect how you interact with your loved one in your relationship. Maybe you haven’t given that concept much thought until now. If people have no respect for your relationship because you don’t treat it with respect, then they will also likely be losing respect for each of you as individuals. The businessman who has a generally happy wife is understandably respected more than the businessman who has epic battles with his wife at every country club in town.
Early on in our marriage, Eric and I were blessed to have the opportunity to visit Disneyland with his uncle, aunt, brother, sister-in-law, and two nephews. Let’s just say that theme parks exhaust me, so I was already primed to have my inner immature three-year-old exposed. Around dusk, we all decided to get on Splash Mountain – Disneyland’s water log ride (end result: we were drenched – and according to Eric, that was the first time ever where he was drenched after having ridden the ride many times – needless to say, most of our party was not too thrilled we were so wet). After the ride, Eric and his aunt were waiting in line for a picture when I suggested to my sister-in-law that we visit the Winnie the Pooh store a few yards away. My sister-in-law, her older son, and I walked to the shop while Eric and his aunt were watching my sister-in-law’s younger son. About five or so minutes later, Eric and his aunt come waltzing in the store, laughing and talking when we realize they were without a small child (my younger nephew was about three years old at the time). My sister-in-law runs out of the store in a panic to find her son and in all my “wisdom,” I look at my husband with arms flying everywhere and screamed, “YOU LOST HIM!” This was an unfair accusation that led to a crazy, loud, emotional display of anger in the middle of Winnie the Pooh’s happy place. I cannot imagine how many little kids I may have scarred for life. Some of them may never be able to see a Winnie the Pooh movie again.
By the time we were done losing it with each other, our nephew was found and perfectly fine. (Apparently what happened was that I thought Eric and his aunt confirmed that they would watch him when both of them had no recollection of even discussing such a thing with me.) Eric and I, however, didn’t speak to each other for hours after the blow-up, which made for a “fun” evening for all of our company. To this day, I still remember that feeling of humiliation when I realized I’d attacked my husband in public. My only relief was that I was in Southern California and the odds of anyone there ever seeing me again was very improbable. If I had seen someone else lose their temper the way I did, I would’ve wanted to call security on him or her figuring the lost child had probably run away to escape the madness.
We all slip up from time to time, but create a habit of having your disagreements and arguments in private. Disagreements will happen and you and your honey will get over your fight long before your company will. Later, while you and your girlfriend are having ice cream and forgetting about your public display of revulsion, your dinner guest will still be thinking about it and may even be making plans to not make plans with you again. ~smile~
This week, make a game plan with your boyfriend or girlfriend on how you will handle disagreements and arguments in public. When you feel that argument winding up in the presence of others, what will you do? Will you agree to wait and discuss it later or will you immediately excuse yourselves and take care of it then? Agreeing on this plan of action will possibly save you from much humiliation and keep you from giving other little children nightmares.
What is your game plan for arguments and disagreements when you are in public? Are you in agreement with your boyfriend/girlfriend, fiancée, or spouse?