Bickering In Public Is Bad Manners
Have you ever been in the presence of a bickering couple? Have you and your mate ever been guilty of subjecting others to your banter?

Some couples just like to bicker. It’s a habit, a way of life. Often it doesn’t mean anything to them because they don’t take each other seriously. They know the bottom line is that they care about each other and each would be there, supporting the other when it really counts.

My friend was excited about a great new play she and her husband had just seen. At dinner, she said, "We saw this great play. This delightful character comes bouncing onto the stage wearing a purple jacket and a red tie."

"No, it was a blue tie, don’t you remember it was just like one of mine," her husband interrupts.

"Well anyway," she continues, "he walked across the stage like a duck,"

Then he, talking louder than she corrects, "No no no, first he untied his shoe, remember because you sneezed in the middle of it and I told you you missed that part."

Now she talks louder and faster apparently trying to drown him out. "He untied his shoe much later, I remember because you were talking about the popcorn when I sneezed. Have you lost your brain power?"

Then he shouts back at her, "You couldn’t get it straight if I wrote it all out for you."

By the time they get to the punch line they have argued over the correctness of every detail, and criticized each other’s character until the point is lost, and the mood is sour.

I’m sure we’ve all been witnesses to this scenario. Maybe we’ve even been one of the participants. Is it so important for us to be right even about inconsequential details?

Whether we argue in private or in public, the real point we’re debating can get lost because of our intense need to be right about details for which there is no proof. Our arguments can quickly deteriorate into a; you did too, I did not, go nowhere kind of battle.

     Some cloak their derogatory remarks in humor, as if to say, I’m saying this but I’m saying it in jest, so don’t take it so seriously. Doing it that way gives them license to say whatever they want, and not have to take responsibility for having said it.

Things really can get bad though when bickering couples attempt to draw their audience into the debate asking others to agree with them about the stupidity of their mate or the rightness of their stand, literally begging their listeners to take sides.

I personally feel very uncomfortable in the presence of a bickering couple. I just want to disappear, anything to avoid taking sides. I think, regardless of rightness or accuracy, the person doing the criticizing looks worse than the one who’s being attacked.

The truth of the matter is that making your mate look bad in public is in bad taste and impolite to both your companions and your mate. Worst of all, bickering in public violates a sacred bond, the essence of a caring and trusting relationship. Most people I know would like to be able to trust their partners to validate their worth, not cut it down in public.

      I’m reminded of the couple who came to therapy when their grown children took a stand. They refused to come "home" for visits because they found their parent’s habit of bickering so unpleasant. Shouldn’t we be allowed to say what we want in our own home they asked?

Why is it so important to be right? Because our very sanity depends on our ability to trust what we sense, and when our senses are challenged we feel compelled to defend ourselves. It would be painful indeed, to agree the yellow chair we see right now is red. When we disagree about perceptions of past events it can feel like our senses are being challenged when only our memory is being questioned. It shouldn’t be so hard to admit we could forget a past detail.

Sometimes it’s very important to stand up and speak out about what we believe is right or wrong. We need to let each other know we will not tolerate extra marital affairs or taking drugs when we feel strongly about these things.

More often, however, it’s more important to be in a good relationship than it is to be right. Letting the little inconsequential inaccuracies go would be a good rule to follow.

—M. LaCourt

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