Even though you know your spouse well, your teasing can still be offensive and can hurt a relationship. Cutting remarks can wound deeply.
Why Does Your Spouse Tease You?
- Teasing is a way of showing love and affection for some individuals.
- For others, teasing is a habit and a way of interacting with people.
- In some cases, teasing may be a power play or a way of trying to be the center of attention.
- Some people may tease to liven up a dull conversation or to try and come across as clever and funny.
- There are people who use teasing as a smoke screen to keep the focus on others and not on themselves.
- Others tease their spouse when there are others around because they think it is a safe way to say something negative they've been wanting to say.
Virginia Satir, a family therapist: "Teasing is often unacknowledged hostility. It is an attempt to avoid responsibility for being honest. Teasing is often an effort to disclaim the presence of hostility and in effect, everyone loses."
Some psychologists believe that teasing is an important tool in building healthy relationships. The more satisfied a couple is with their marriage, the more playful they can become.
However, since teasing is ambiguous, the desired effect can backfire. Additionally, people respond differently to teasing.
- Don't attack or be malicious especially when it comes to your spouse's capabilities, appearance, weight, or what you perceive to be a physical flaw. It isn't funny to those who hear what you've said, and it isn't funny to your spouse.
- Don't overdo the humor bit. Yes, every relationship needs some fun and laughter. However, you can give too many gag gifts, make too many so called witty remarks, tell a few too many funny stories, and engage in too much horseplay. Keep it balanced with some down to earth, real, serious conversations with your spouse.
- Make sure that your teasing isn't a sly or manipulative way to throw insults and put-downs at your spouse.
- Recognize that teasing can snowball in a relationship with one spouse wanting to top the other's last remark.
- All of us have sensitive areas or weak spots in our self esteem. It's not something that is readily shared. So if your spouse objects to your teasing, accept that the teasing is not liked or appreciated and knock it off! Don't try to throw if off by saying that you were only joking or that your spouse is a poor sport.
What to Do When the Teasing Doesn't Stop
- If you are being teased by your spouse and don't like it, say so. Assert yourself. Ask your mate, "Why would you say that?" or "Why do you want to hurt my feelings?"
- If teasing is a problem primarily when you are among friends, decide in advance how you want to handle the situation. Sometimes, a long stare, then walking away will get the message across. Other folks have actually left the restaurant or party and drove home figuring their spouse can figure out a way to get home on their own.
- When confronted later as to why you responded the way you did, state again that the teasing wasn't funny and that you aren't going to take it anymore.
The key is being able to recognize good-natured, healthy teasing from teasing that attacks. If your spouse doesn't stop teasing when you ask, or if the teasing becomes even more vindictive and hurtful after you've discussed it, then there could be some serious problems in your marriage, including emotional abuse, that require professional help.