Don't treat unkindness with kindness

I found this on the internet and thought a few of us could benefit by reading it over and over.  I will.

"Sally's husband was often abusive. One morning, over breakfast, Hank began yelling at her because she was on the phone instead of keeping him company. Later, after Hank went to work, Sally picked up his shirts from the laundry, ran some other errands for him, and decided to cook his favorite dish for dinner.  Do you think Sally did the right thing?

Sally, alas, believed that if she could only create an ideal loving home atmosphere, her husband's abusiveness would stop. Unfortunately, she was in fact rewarding her husband's negative behavior. In response to his outbursts, Hank found his chores done for him and he was served his favorite dinner. Why would he change his treatment of his wife when she responds so positively?

The events that follow an action will weaken or strengthen the likelihood it will occur again. In behavioral psychology, this is called the "Law of Effect" and states that behavior varies as a function of its consequences.  Hence, if Sally is nice to Hank when he treats her badly, she is teaching him to continue being abusive. By putting up with Hank's abusive behavior, Sally gives him the message that it's okay to treat her that way. If she showed him instead that she was willing to be especially kind and helpful only when he was considerate and loving, a positive pattern would be more likely to develop.

Similarly, Tommy believed that kindness would overcome unkindness. He sent flowers to his wife whenever she flared up at him, hoping this gesture would put her in a good mood. Instead, it only encouraged her to flare up at him even more.  If Tommy understood the psychological Law of Effect, he would not repay his wife's unkindness with kindness but with a firm, assertive response that clearly expressed his unhappiness.

Keep in mind:

The meek shall inherit the earth because the aggressive people of the world will trample their face into it!

Despite the Biblical decree, if you always turn the other cheek all you'll end up with is a completely sore face.

To encourage positive and discourage offensive behavior:

• Do not reward behaviors in others that you wish to eliminate.

• Follow actor Alan Alda's advice: "Be fair with others, but then keep after them until they're fair with you."

• Learn to speak up assertively.

• Do not reward unkind behavior from others.

• If someone treats you badly, say so - do not smile and pretend it's okay.

Remember:  Think well, act well, feel well, be well!"


Copyright by Clifford N. Lazarus, Ph.D

What do you want?

"You have to name it before you can claim it. Strategy: Get clear about what you want and take your turn. Not knowing what you want " from your major life goals to your day-to-day desires " is not OK. The most you'll ever get is what you ask for. If you don't even know what it is that you want, then you can't even ask for it. You also won't even know if you get there! By being specific in defining your goal, the choices you make along the way will be more goal-directed. You will recognize which behaviors and choices support your goals " and which do not. You will know when you are heading toward your goal, and when you are off track. Be bold enough to reach for what will truly fill you up, without being unrealistic. Once you have the strength and resolve enough to believe that you deserve what it is that you want, then and only then will you be bold enough to step up and claim it. Remember that if you don't, someone else will." from Dr. Phils Life Laws (sorry, it came up when I searched for "teach people how to treat you.")

I have started to get rid of any expectations for DH to fill my needs.  What do I want?  

I want to feel loved and cared for.  I can make one night a week a date night if I choose and act like a date while there and stop expecting ANY attention or energy from him - he just does not have it to give to me. I can spend more time with other people who put energy into having a relationship with me.  

I want to respect myself. I will stop "letting things go in the name of cooperation" that undermine me and my need for sanity and peace.

I want to free myself from anger and resentment. The antonym of anger is: agreeability, calmness, contentment, enjoyment, good nature, happiness, joy, peace, pleasantness. The antonym of resentment is: affection, happiness, liking, love, pleasure.  I want those things back in my life nurturing me back with positive feelings. These are the ways I was brought up to be.  This approach with DH has not led to being treated with the same as I was giving. This approach resulted in me being treated as a good-old idiot dependable servant girl.  To get this back in my life I accept that it is up to me how I feel.  If I can't get those feeling with DH, I must get them from somewhere else if I need them.  I will join social groups.  Gather my friends together more often. Call people, talk to other people.

I want to stop being a weak role-model for my kids and start being a role model of strength.  I had not realized that I was being weak while I thought I was being "loving and agreeable".  So many years of doing things I didn't want  in order to try to be a team player and supporting my DH's needy ego.  This is where I will start my focus because it feels selfish to me to have to fight to get my way in a relationship (that is my trigger I must work to control). I will change the terminology in my mind from "fighting" to "standing strong acting with courage in the face of threat".

I want to feel safe financially. He is not able/willing to do that for/with me.  Is that a deal breaker? ... Can I do that for myself?.....I must find a way....of course I can. I just have to give up a few things to get what I want to have.

Pbartender's picture

First, say to yourself what you would be...

This reminds me, Jenna, of some of the stoic philosophy I've been rereading lately.  "First, say to yourself what you would be; then do what you have to do."  Go for it, Jenna!

What do I want?  In no particular order...

I want to regain my self-respect and self-confidence.  Years of failure and blame have beaten it out of me.  I can take pride in my own accomplishments and successes again.  I can take joy in using my talents and skills well.  I can take failure in stride, and learn from my mistakes.  I can stop basing my self-worth on the regard of others.  I can stand up for myself and the values I believe in.

I want to regain control of my own emotions, thoughts and actions.  I am allowed to feel what I feel.  I can acknowledge and understand and have empathy for the feelings of others.  But I do not need to let those feelings dictate my thoughts and actions.  I was once good at this, and over the years have lost the knack.

I want to have adventures.  I am an explorer at heart.  I want to see new places.  I want to try new things.  I want to meet new people.  I've given up too many of my hobbies, friends and goals in futile attempts to keep my wife happy.  I'm tired of sitting around the house doing nothing interesting.

I want a friend and a companion, who loves me and cares for me.  I want someone I can share those adventures with.  Someone I can simply enjoy spending time with.  Someone who wants to be around me, because they want to and not because they have to.  Someone who will show me affection and accept mine in return.  I do not have to accept my wife's apathetic disregard...  She can get back in the game and an active part of the family, or she can leave.  If she wants to continue living with us, I will no longer tolerate her self-imposed estrangement from the family.

I want to be a better father.  It is my job as a father to make sure my kids are safe, healthy and happy.  As they grow, it is my duty to teach them how to be respectful, responsible adults.  In the past, there were times that I let my anger, shame, resentment and disappointment spill over onto them by way of overly harsh punishments.  Instead of punishing them, I can focus on teaching them better ways to avoid the mistake they make.  I can also share adventures with them.

I want to be debt free.  Eliminating my debts would make me financially secure and financially independent, regardless of my wife's contributions to the budget.  I would have enough money to pay the necessary bills and have plenty left over for fun and adventure.  I would no longer have to worry about being able to pay the bills, and I would be confident of my ability to financially support myself and the kids, whatever else happens.



Acting with courage

Acting with courage in the face of threat.

What are the threats in our marriage?  I just wrote and deleted a number of detailed, perceived threats that I tie in with being married to ADD DH. The one thing they all had in common were that  because of them, I feel unloved and shaky (fearful).  Unloved because there is not a spark of recognition in demeanor and in the eyes that I acquaint with "love" and "sharing".  Rather there is a "hiding" and "withholding" and "sparring" that makes me nervous.  Shaky (fearful) because I don't have all the information available...he keeps things from me and makes things jokey to distract me rather than including me in his life and decisions.  There is a trust that is missing.  He is not taking care of his own responsibilities in business or in family. How can I have courage in the face of "un-trust", yet, still have love and compassion and understanding?  I realize that I HAVE done this for over 30 years.  I have kept on in the face of possible failure with him all these years. I have been acting with courage (and love) in the face of threat.  Yet the feeling of "unloved and shaky" still are present - for me.  Doing that long term is a drain on your spirit and your health. For me to BE strong while feeling unloved and shaky, is my challenge.  I am disappointed because I thought love and marriage was an agreement to go through the difficulties NOT alone.