Last weekend we stumbled across something that made us stop and re-evaluate our attitude. Sometimes our attitude comes across as a superiority – like when we believe we possess qualities or traits that our spouse doesn’t and become condescending – and this hurts our relationship. By “qualities” and “traits” we mean things such as: generosity, patience, understanding, compassion. Perhaps a couple of examples would help.
Paul: We were talking with another couple when Steph became “hazy” in her recollection of the story she was telling. I interrupted to provide the “correct” information with “clarity and accuracy.” I didn’t notice right away that she had become quiet, and I certainly didn’t recognize that I had hurt her. My attitude of superiority – my belief that I am more “clear” and “concise” than she is – had surfaced again. Before I even realized it, I’d caused a hurt in our relationship.
Steph: One attitude of superiority I have is that I judge I am more easygoing than Paul. I judge I am a better person than Paul because I do not get as annoyed about things as often as he does. The other day we were driving to the store and Paul made a comment about another person’s driving. I said,” I am sure he just didn’t see you, geez.” I could tell by the hurt look on Paul’s face and the silence all the way to the store that I had hurt him with my words. In my mind I was thinking that I would never get upset about something as silly as that and judgment came through in my tone as I believed I was a better person than Paul in that moment.
After 33 years of marriage, we were reminded that we’re not immune from falling into the trap of superior attitudes and the trouble they cause. Having these two recent experiences reminds us that we need to be more vigilant and aware of how they can unexpectedly creep in and cause havoc. Identifying and recognizing our superior attitudes is the first step in reducing these destructive behaviors. Acknowledging the hurt they cause and asking for forgiveness can lead to healing between us.
Questions for Reflection:
1. Do I have an attitude of superiority that has a negative impact on our marriage?
2. Where is this attitude coming from? (Hint: An attitude of superiority is an attempt to compensate for my own self-doubts/low self-esteem by judging others (even my spouse) are inferior to me. In an attempt to build myself up, I put the other person down to magnify my positive traits/qualities/abilities, to convince myself that I am valuable.)