Are you a very observant person? Have you ever been out and witnessed a spouse being critical of his/her spouse in front of you and/or others? What an uncomfortable place to be – for everybody, except the clueless criticizer. Maybe you have done it yourself. Perhaps your spouse/significant other has done it to you. Cheap shot artists. Poor taste!
Pot shots while in the company of others is a passive aggressive act which comes from pent upanger and frustration at the other. Most couples have some issues and irritations that exist over the period of their lives together. It is not easy to live with someone day in and day out in complete harmony.
In the course of counseling couples over the years this issue usually is included in the list of “grievances” that are brought up to be dealt with in a session. The one who has been criticized felt embarrassed on these occasions. The person is tempted to come back with a “zinger” of his/her own. This, of course, just raises the arsenal of shots going back and forth.
Why do people do this? Usually it is because the person is too timid to bring up the issue to the other person face to face withoutothers present. Perhaps s/he is fearful of retaliation and figures that if s/he does it in front of others such a reaction is less likely. Or, perhaps, s/he has such anger built up that s/he wants to hurt and embarrass the other in front of other people. Another possibility is that s/he has tried everything to change the behavior of the other person and now resorts to the court of public opinion. S/he feels that maybe the listening party will take his/her side and help convince the “offender” that s/he is wrong.
What I am talking about here are people who consistently do this type of backbiting in front of others. Most people on occasion have slipped and said something less than kind about their spouse/significant other in front of others. Hopefully that person realized the mistake made and apologized. Perhaps s/he needs a kindly reminder that such an offense happened. Liquor often allows the lips to speak where it would have been better to restrain.
If you are characteristically guilty of this, please stop. You really embarrass yourself more than the person you are taking “pot shots” at. If you are with a couple where this behavior exists, are you going to say anything at the time? Not that it is easy to do that. At least a change of topic would help.
Whatever issues and concerns that exist between a couple should stay between a couple. Airing one’s dirty laundry in front of others is not the outlet needed. Try to communicate assertively and kindly to your spouse if you have a particular concern. Sometimes, you just have to “suck it up” regarding some behaviors that the other person is not able to change, or just plain won’t. If it is a major issue get some counseling and work to resolve the issue. Your relationship is worth the effort!