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“My spouse’s upbringing exasperates me — what can I do?”


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Edifa - published on 04/21/21

When differences in how you were raised become disturbing in a marriage.

With varying degrees of strictness, our parents instilled in us a number of reflexes, principles, and values that shaped our social behavior into a pattern that often puts us in a certain “category” in the eyes of others. The same pattern can make us reject those who deviate from it. This is what is happening to Alice, to her great disappointment. Alice is disappointed in her husband who does not share her codes, but also in herself, because she is incapable, she says, of going beyond these differences, which mortify her. 

A recent incident was the last straw. She says her husband Jacques seriously embarrassed her during a family meal by doing “what he often does”: he spoke with his mouth full. It may seem trivial to some, but Alice can’t stand it anymore. Moreover, she feels that it goes against the principles of good manners that she tries to instill in their children. Until now, she has been discreet in her remarks to her husband, but now she reacts very directly, even in front of witnesses. This has been creating an atmosphere of tension and even open warfare for the past few weeks. Jacques told her how much he was hurt by her lack of respect for him. Hence Alice’s question: How can she overcome this situation, while maintaining the good manners that are part of her upbringing?

Distinguishing the essential from the accessory

Above all, it would be good not to tell off your spouse publicly, because, as can be seen in his reaction, this attitude is perceived as disrespectful and humiliating. He felt that he was being treated like a child. When you make such remarks to your spouse, he may feel his entire upbringing is called into question.

Alice also says that this is only a by-product, and that there are other things that bother her about her husband’s attitudes when it comes to issues connected to upbringing. At this point, it is necessary to distinguish the essential from the accessory.

The encounter between a man and a woman is inevitably the encounter of two ways of being brought up, and there will be differences between them on certain points. That’s why it is important to ask yourself the right questions: what is essential and what needs to be modified about it? And what is the accessory that you would be able to let go without too much difficulty? But most of all, it is necessary to ask ourselves what might bother our spouse in our own attitude. Why not do this exercise with a pencil in hand before starting a discussion on the subject? A good interactive exchange is better than a bad stalemate. And this is another opportunity to continue building your relationship.

Marie-Noël Florant

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