It happens to a lot to people. We fall in love. The romantic phase can blind you to your partner's imperfections. Unfortunately, later you may realize that your spouse is really a jerk.
You think your mate will change. Or, that you can help bring out the best in him or her. You hope that in time the difficult aspects of your spouse's bad personality will go away. But in the vast majority of cases, it simply does not happen.
The result is that you may find yourself in love with a person you can't stand and don't like. Comments from others such as, "You should have known better..." or "Didn't you see it while dating..." won't help when living with a jerk. It is most likely true that you ignored red flags. You may have even ignored friends and family who made futile attempts to warn you.
The question now is, should you end your marriage when the handsome prince turns into a toad? Or is there hope for such a marriage? The answer is that is hope for this type of situation. However, it does take honest and caring communication.
Types of Difficult Spouses
- The Know-it-All
- The Negative Thinker
- The Criticizer
- The Wishy-Washy Type
- The Silent Clam
- The Bully
- The Sickening Sweet Personality
- The Procrastinator
- The Self-centered and Selfish Person
- The Demanding Type
- The Joker
- The Embarrassing Spouse
Personality compatibility is an important characteristic of happy couples.
Irritating habits and activities of a jerk can drive you up the wall just like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet. If ignored, it only gets worse. As soon as you start to realize you are in this predicament, take action right away. Don't let the resentment build until you explode.
Coping Strategies if You've Married a Jerk
- Recognize that you can't change your spouse. You can only change your reactions and responses. The upside of recognizing this is that if you change your behavior, it may trigger your spouse to want to change. Or you may see a different reaction than you are used to and hopefully a better one.
- Try to focus on the positive. Looking only at the negative behaviors in your spouse can be self-fulfilling. If you find yourself in this trap, work up to it. Spend one evening, one meal, or one hour looking for the positive. The next time, see if you can focus on the positive for twice as long.
- Reinforce positive behavior. When you spouse does something right, say so! Say it in a sincere, positive fashion. Speak to your spouse the way you would want to be spoken to, not with sarcasm or veiled criticism of how your spouse usually acts.
- Maintain eye contact when stating your own opinions and feelings. Be prepared if you are going to make a statement, so you know what you want to say before you say it.
- Be straightforward and clear in your communications with your spouse. Hints, veiled comments and passive-aggressive statements are not straightforward.
- Make time to be alone together such as taking walks. Walking together is a natural way to provoke a pleasant conversation. Walking, especially in a natural setting, can help both of you relieve stress.
- Don't place blame. It only creates defensiveness. Use "I" statements. Instead of, "You should," begin your statement with, "I need," "I want," "I feel." Focus on the behavior you would like to see changed and how it makes you feel. You are allowed to complain to your spouse, just do so effectively minimize the likelihood of the conversation escalating.
- Be honest about yourself rather than defensive. If you make a mistake, admit it. You can even ask your partner what changes you should make as well.
- It's okay to set boundaries. If your spouse's jerky behavior becomes abusive in any way, firmly state that this is unacceptable. Have a plan for what you will do if it doesn't stop.
Marriage is hard. People tend to bring their best self to dating and let it all hang out when married. Despite this, rude, haughty, mean or cocky behaviors will cause the relationship to suffer. Use these tips to see if you can turn things into a more positive direction.
*Article updated by Marni Feuerman