Who’s with me when I say last summer it was very difficult – difficult at the level of passing up a buy-one, get-one shoe sale – to watch Robin Thicke, a married man of 8 years, at the MTV Video Music Awards grinding against a scantily-clad 20+ years younger Miley Cyrus? But probably even more difficult was watching Thicke’s wife, actress Paula Patton, field interview questions following the disgusting performance. She smiled through her teeth, she downplayed it as best as she could, she stood by her husband’s choice to wear an outfit resembling Beetlejuice and even moreso his decision to allow the “Miley monkey” (as I like to call her) climb all over him.
With every word Patton spoke, fists clenched (OK, maybe hers weren’t, but mine were!), I couldn’t help but feel bad for her – and for any woman (yes I’ve been there!) who has ever pretended to be OK with a controversial decision their man has made.
Fast forward to present day and what Patton recently told People magazine: “We will always love each other and be best friends, however, we have mutually decided to separate at this time.”
Shocker. But not because a Hollywood couple is on the outs. Celebs split and get back together more times than Lindsay Lohan attempts a comeback.
But if we stay quiet, resentment builds and next thing you know, you’re filing divorce papers
Notice it was Patton – not Thicke, not Patton AND Thicke in a joint statement, not Patton’s rep – who broke the news. This statement has “embarrassed, scorned, humiliated woman” written all over it. I’ve worked in the entertainment news world for the last decade for People magazine, Life & Style Weekly, In Touch Weekly and the National Enquirer (yes, THAT National Enquirer), and this one is easy to read. Who can blame her? But more importantly who can relate to her?
Raising my hand here – and hoping some of you are joining.
If we speak out to our man about things we don’t like, we are considered bitches. But if we stay quiet, resentment builds and next thing you know, you’re filing divorce papers because of that one time six years ago he left you on Valentine’s Day weekend to go skiing with his friends. You told him it was “fine” at the time but spent the rest of the weekend holed up on your couch with every food delivery menu in the Tri-State area, a marathon of cheesy Ryan Gosling movies and a box of tissues.
There is a way, however, to communicate honestly, openly and effectively and preserve your self-respect in the process.
Reserve “punishments” for the bedroom
Relationships are not about actions and punishments. If your man is doing something you don’t like, find a way to address it without yelling, threatening to withhold sex, using high-pitched “bitch” voice or crying. There is certainly a time and place for tears in a relationship but men oftentimes lose their hearing if the waterworks turn on during discussions of this sort. Keep them engaged by keeping a dry eye.
Use language they can understand – and be nice.
You wouldn’t teach a first grade class the definitions of SAT words, and you want to keep it pretty basic for your man too.Here’s an example:You: “So what did you and the guys do last night?”
Him: “Um…what did we do? Um…well…went to dinner….um…and…uh…went to a strip club after.”
You: “A strip club. (Notice the punctuation here. No question mark and certainly no exclamation mark) Hmm…was it someone’s bachelor party?”
Him: “No, why?”
You: “Well, I have to be honest with you. I don’t love strip clubs. I don’t love the idea of you seeing women other than me naked for fun. But I understand strip clubs are a part of guy code and that kind of thing for bachelor parties and birthdays. On a regular Friday night, though….I’m just not feeling too good about that.”
Him: “Oh honey, I’m so sorry. I won’t ever do that again.”
OK, that last part of the script was fabricated from my own imagination because men never respond like that, BUT if I could write a script for them, that would be the response.
Getting along is a real “process”
Not all men respond to these tactics the same, but if your man has a lapse in judgment and upsets you with a decision he makes, sometimes it’s effective to take a little time and tell him you are just trying to “process” everything, giving the idea that you are considering the future of the relationship carefully. This works better for unmarried couples because let’s face it, once you sign your marriage license you are stuck together and can’t split without calling in a legal team. But men seem to respond well to this because they don’t like disapproval and they certainly don’t like being in the doghouse. This indicates that both are happening at the same time – double whammy. Let them sweat it out a bit while you are “processing,” then talk openly.
What are some of your go-to ways to give your man a proverbial slap on the wrist for a minor offense?