By Dr. James Dobson
One key to building trust is to take great care not to hurt or embarrass those we love. Some information is private and should remain so. For one partner to reveal family secrets indiscriminately or to verbalize barely concealed put-downs breaks the couple’s bond of loyalty and violates trust.
If you have ever been to a party and watched someone play “Assassinate the Spouse,” you know what I mean. The objective is simple: A contestant attempts to punish his mate by ridiculing her in front of their friends. If he wants to be especially vicious, he lets the guests know he thinks she is dumb and ugly. It’s a brutal game with no winners. The contest ends when his wife is totally divested of self-respect and dignity; he gets bonus points if he can reduce her to tears.
Sound cruel? It is, even when it’s carried out under the guise of joking or teasing. It’s never enjoyable to watch someone take out anger against his (or her) mate in this way. We’re most sensitive to the comments of our mates in the presence of our peers. This is a word game that should never be played.
Also beware of another type of charade: using your “sharing” with your spouse to create insecurity and gain power over him or her. I know of a handsome young company president who told his wife every day about the single women at the office who flirted with him. His candor was admirable, but by not also stressing his commitment to his wife, he was saying (consciously or not): “You’d better treat me right because there are plenty of women out there just waiting to get their hands on me.” His wife began to fret about how she could hang onto her husband.
He should have reflected on his real motives for alarming his wife. Did this kind of sharing nurture or injure his friendship and trust with her? And she could have helped redirect the conversations by pointing out to her husband—in a calm, non-threatening manner—how his words made her feel.
From 5 Essentials of Lifelong Intimacy by Dr. James C. Dobson
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Dr. James Dobson is the Founder and President of Family Talk, a nonprofit organization that produces his radio program, “Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk.” He is the author of more than 30 books dedicated to the preservation of the family, including The New Dare to Discipline; Love for a Lifetime; Life on the Edge; Love Must Be Tough; The New Strong-Willed Child; When God Doesn’t Make Sense; Bringing Up Boys; Marriage Under Fire; Bringing Up Girls; and, most recently, Head Over Heels.
Dr. Dobson served as an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine for 14 years and on the attending staff of Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles for 17 years. He has been active in governmental affairs and has advised three U.S. presidents on family matters. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California (1967) in the field of child development. He holds 17 honorary doctoral degrees, and was inducted in 2008 into The National Radio Hall of Fame. Dr. Dobson recently received the “Great American Award” from The Awakening.
Dr. Dobson is married to Shirley and they have two grown children, Danae and Ryan, and two grandchildren. The Dobsons reside in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
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