Tag Archives: rude

“Should I stay with my husband who is rude, selfish, and impossible to live with?”

“Celestial Magic” Mimi Stuart©

“Should I stay with my husband who is impossible to live with?

My husband barks orders at me, is rude and condescending, and when things heat up he uses profanity and calls me names. He does things that can be very selfish, and if I complain he says I’m being “toxic”. He rarely says he’s sorry and is uninterested in counseling.

Here are the reasons I have stayed with him to date:

1) I don’t want another failed marriage,

2) We have a kid together and for her sake I don’t want to break our family apart,

3) He is very smart, can be fun, and we share values,

4) He is the primary breadwinner so I’d have to go back to full time work, and

5) We are both in our early 50’s and that feels like a pretty advanced age to give up and try to start over.”

1. Another failed relationship

Is staying in a failed relationship better than leaving it? We all make mistakes and face different challenges in our lives. Life is about learning from our experiences and transforming ourselves and our relationships for the better. Ask yourself whether staying in a failed relationship is better than leaving it when there is very little hope for joy, mutual growth, and deepening love.

2. Staying together for the children

Staying in an abusive relationship is not good for you or your daughter. In contrast, having the courage to seek a better life can be of great benefit to your child. It is a gift to show your daughter that you can set clear boundaries, that you have the self-respect to expect better treatment, and that you will take action to improve your life.

It may be helpful to explain the situation to your child, without unnecessarily disparaging your husband. There is no need to go into great detail, especially if the child is young. For example, you might say:

“You probably have noticed that we have great difficultly talking to each other without arguing. There will be disagreements in any relationship. But in our case, we are hurting each other constantly and unnecessarily. Since your dad is unwilling to go to counseling, I have decided to leave the relationship. But we both love you and life will go on and eventually improve.”

You may be surprised by her reaction, if not immediately, then down the road. If your husband is as abusive as you say then she may thank you for the separation.

3. My partner has good qualities. What is the magic ratio?

Something attracted you to each other in the first place, and it is good to still be able to see his positive qualities. The question to ask yourself is whether your relationship reaches the magic ratio—that is, a minimum of five positive interactions to every one negative interaction (found through John Gottman’s research.) When that magic ratio is not reached, the relationship will spiral out of control toward misery.

4. Financial considerations and going back to work

For many people, financial security is a very serious consideration. Yet independence from an abusive relationship is well worth your going back to full-time work. As a capable and thoughtful person, I am sure you will find work and thereby become more independent and also attract more positive people into your orbit. In fact, working can be the most liberating and rewarding experience you can have outside your relationship. Whether you stay together or not, working can expand your life and social network, which can enhance your self-respect and courage.

5. Too old to start over

You say that you are hesitant to end your relationship because you are in your fifties. But consider that you could easily live for another 35 or 40 years. Even if you only had another five years, your best years are likely ahead of you given your current circumstances. People can have new relationships, learn, grow, and find joy and happiness in many ways later in life. I know many people who are physically and mentally active well into their 80’s and 90’s.

Now that your husband is spending more time at home, ask yourself whether things are improving and will continue to do so, or not. Ask yourself whether you will be able to enjoy your life more in the next 30-40 years with him at your side or without him? What you have described is an abusive relationship, so I suspect the answer would be the latter.

It is laudable that you are taking responsibility for your part in the conflicts between the two of you. You can continue to work on becoming a more effective communicator and focus more on controlling your own life.

If you do leave your husband, there is no need to blame him or to be hostile. Explain the situation in a “nonviolent” way (see Marshall Rosenberg.) Here is an example,

“We have many values in common, I enjoy your wit and intelligence, and most importantly, we have a wonderful daughter. However, I need to be able to communicate with my partner in a loving way, to share joy, and to find ways to grow together. I feel distressed and frustrated that we rarely can talk with one another without fighting. I want to be in a relationship where there is mutual respect, curiosity and love. I’m sure you have noticed it too that our relationship is no longer a happy one—for either of us. We may find a way to resolve our ongoing problems by counseling, but if you aren’t willing to try, it’s best that we separate. It makes me very sad. I certainly don’t want to hurt you, but I can’t foresee continuing in the way we have been.”

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

“How can I teach my son to be respectful and caring and to love himself?”

"R E S P E C T" by Mimi Stuart ©  Live the Life you Desire

“R E S P E C T” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

“When my son was two, his dad went to prison due to his strong drug addiction. Because I felt so sorry for my son, I over-spent on material things and became his best friend. I was in denial that my actions would hurt my son, and myself.

Now my son is very selfish, rude, and angry at the world, and he is non-sociable. His world is restricted to video games on the internet. He has a very high IQ, but he is overweight, and while in school, he was bullied, which drove him almost to suicide. So I took him out of school, and decided to home school him. He didn’t learn any social skills.

I am disabled, and I am overweight as well. I am trying to save enough of money to get us an elliptic stepper exerciser, but they are expensive.

Now I have a selfish, angered, lazy son who is rude to me; he wants things and does not want to give. How can I teach my son to be respectful, show he cares and to love himself?”

Hi Tina,

You have plenty of challenges in your life without beating yourself up about the past. At this point, you need to focus on each day and look to the future.

Let’s look at four reasons teenagers and children at any age tend to be rude, disrespectful and uncaring, and what to do about each one:

1. The parent lacks self-respect. A parent who demonstrates little self–respect receives little respect.

Self-respect involves valuing yourself and not allowing others to treat you poorly. You need to value what’s best for your long-term fulfillment and work each day toward improving your own life. You also need to expect respectful treatment, and have appropriate consequences each time your child is rude to you.

For instance, when he demands things, say something like “If you want something you need to be respectful and contribute to this household.” Then make sure you give him what he wants only if it is necessary, he is polite, and he contributes to the family (chores, etc.) It’s important that you as the parent make such demands respectfully so as to set a good example.

2. The child knows no boundaries.
The second cause of rudeness in children is parents’ over-indulging them and neglecting to set boundaries. The parent needs to be able to say “no” and mean it, but without a condescending attitude.

Parents who need to be liked or become their child’s friend find it difficult to have reasonable expectations and set boundaries. Indulgence and lack of boundaries intended to prop up a child’s self-esteem do the opposite—they cause increased distress and anxiety in the child.

In contrast, parents who set reasonable boundaries and give reasonable consequences are teaching their child self-discipline in the face of instant gratification and temptation. Self-discipline is what enables children to persevere in the world despite set backs. Self-esteem is built on a foundation of perseverance.

3. The child needs more autonomy. All children strive for independence and separation from their parents and need to push the parent away if the parent does not encourage the development of independence.

If you give too much advice and keep them too close, they will not feel good about themselves and they will lose respect for you, often becoming rude, surly and more demanding. Over-protection angers children because implies that they are incapable and it restricts their ability to grow. Ironically, over-protection makes the child more vulnerable and incapable of taking care of themselves. As a result, over-protected children end up craving independence while fearing it at the same time.

In extreme cases when a child is at risk of suicide, there needs to be intervention and counseling. But continuous over-protection will only increase their vulnerability when they do have to venture out into the world.

In general, when we allow our children to deal with the normal difficulties of life, they develop their abilities to deal with the risks, dangers, and bullies that life has to offer. The parent has to realize that the child will get hurt, but will develop ways of dealing with painful incidents if given appropriate amounts autonomy. Ideally, autonomy, good decision-making, and self-preservation develop gradually as a result of the parent gradually giving the child more independence along with more responsibility and accountability.

4. The child seeks power. The fourth cause of rudeness is a need to lash out as a way to experience power because the child does not feel self-empowered in any other way.

A healthy way for a child to become self-empowered is to develop the ability to set goals and achieve them, which again requires perseverance in the face of difficulties. Parents need to have reasonable expectations that their children become more responsible and face reasonable difficulties on their own, while they also hold them accountable for their actions.

In summary, a parent sets the stage for a child to develop self-respect, a precursor to being caring and respectful, by doing the following:

1. developing their own self-respect,
2. setting reasonable boundaries and issuing consequences,
3. giving the child gradually-increasing amounts of autonomy along with responsibility, and
4. expecting the child to work hard, challenge him- or herself, and treat others well.


At this point, I would focus on improving your life, expecting more from your son, and not being afraid to say “no” to him. Avoid argument while focusing on daily improvement of your life.

Rather than buying an elliptic stepper exerciser, you may want to consider going for regular walks. Walking is free and it gets you outdoors in fresh air and among other people, which encourages healthy interaction with the world. You may want to download books from the library onto an mp3 player, which will make it easier and more enjoyable to take longer walks. By demonstrating to your son that your are learning, improving your life, and that you can leave the house frequently despite the discomfort you feel in doing so, you will role model your ability to pursue challenges on your own. I would also encourage or require your son to go back to school and/or work, or some other social environment where he challenges himself to grow and engage with other people.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen


Watch “How to Respond to Rudeness: ‘I TOLD you to get it for me!!!’”

Read “Angry Adult Child:
‘The years of terror from my mother has made me make sure that my son knows I love him. I fear, more than anything, his total rejection. HOWEVER, he often seems angry at me.’”

Read “My teenager is selfish and rude! How did I raise a child like this?”

How to Respond to Rudeness:
“I TOLD you to get it for me!!!”

Rudeness tends to gradually get worse if you simply let it slide, causing relationships to deteriorate. But resentment and over-reaction make things worse as well. So how should you respond to rudeness?

When someone is rude to you, whether it is your partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, child, or acquaintance, it’s best not to do respond to the person’s demand. First, let them know that you don’t appreciate his or her rude attitude. The trick is not becoming hostile yourself.

A simple “excuse me?” with a questioning tone of voice often will be enough for them to apologize or rephrase with a more neutral tone of voice.

Sometimes you may have to actually say, “That tone of voice really doesn’t work for me,” or “please don’t yell at me,” or “I don’t appreciate being yelled at,” or “it’s not helpful to sound angry.” Again, the key is to remain calm, and in some circumstances, you may even be able to retain a sense of humor, which is often the most effective way to get things on the right track.

If we let rudeness slide, our relationships will deteriorate over time, allowing disrespect and contempt to take over. It’s very important, however, not to put the other person on the defensive. Thus, stay calm, maintain your dignity, and retain a sense of humor if appropriate.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Watch “Dealing with Angry People.”

Read “Criticism and Contempt.”

“What a jerk you are! You treat me like a slave!”

"Muwan" Mayan Collection by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Muwan” Mayan Collection by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

So what I really meant was…

“I’d be happy to consider doing that for you if you would speak to me respectfully.”

Unfortunately people close to you may need to be reminded to be polite if they begin to take you for granted.

Why would anyone be motivated to help someone who is being rude? While it’s appropriate to be upset and important to stop the disrespectful behavior, there is no need to overreact. Calling someone a name and being demeaning yourself will only aggravate the situation.

You are more likely to change the relationship dynamic if you keep your cool while giving the other person an opportunity to show his or her better side.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Good Relationships: ‘What happened to our relationship? It used to be so great.’”

Watch “How to avoid becoming a Doormat.”

Read “Communicating Effectively under Stress: ‘This is horrible!’”

“Sometimes my teenager ignores me and other times she slams the door on her way to school, saying ‘just go back to bed.’”

“Steadfast Amelia” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Teenagers generally experience a roller coaster of emotions, feeling superior and independent one moment, then discouraged and needy the next, resulting in mood swings that leave a parent as stunned and confused as the teenager. Frequently distracted, they may not hear their name being called. But if they purposely ignore you, it’s good to speak up: “Alexa, even if something’s bothering you, please acknowledge me when I talk to you.”

Irritability and testiness are understandable in teenagers; they are experiencing a lot of social pressures, academic stress, and increased hormone levels. Yet, any contempt in the form of verbal attacks has to be addressed with both seriousness and compassion. When anyone slams the door or makes remarks like “just go back to bed,” it’s time for you to establish boundaries. Teenagers usually feel worse about themselves when they are allowed to walk all over their parents. They actually feel more secure when they sense that their parents can express some inner strength.

While you do not want to be contemptuous yourself, it’s important to drop the sweetness and to express your personal power. Extending privileges or trying to buy friendliness when kids are behaving like this lowers their respect even more for you. You may want to say, “Don’t speak to me with a demeaning tone of voice. If something is wrong or you have a problem, you can tell me, but talk to me respectfully.”

Avoid in-your-face lecturing, which they will tune out, and avoid hostile withdrawal, which hurts them more than they let on. Instead, speak up and then withdraw a bit to give the teenager time to process. You can say something brief such as, “I know school is hard and you may have a lot going on, but it is not okay to treat me this way.”

It’s helpful to remember that you are role modeling the way you would like them to handle others who are rude. You want them to be effective. So you have to show a balance of respect, personal power, and compassion yourself. Be ready to be compassionate if they explain or become apologetic. Your goal is not to punish but to teach a more effective way of dealing with life’s difficulties.

Don’t expect behavior to permanently change after having a couple of conversations and meting out a few consequences. It’s normal for insolence to creep in again and again. It’s like teaching a small child to say “thank you” — you have to remind them a thousand times.

When parents realize that these moods are fleeting and when they can maintain some calm during the storms, the moodiness will eventually stabilize.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “My teenager is selfish and rude! How did I raise a child like this?”

Read “You don’t mean it when you said ‘I hate you Mom!’”

Read “My child is so disrespectful.”

“It drives my partner crazy that I’m ‘too’ polite. I think he is too blunt.”

"Convergence" by Mimi Stuart
Live the Life you Desire

Enantiodromia (en-ANT-ee-a-DROH-mee-a) is reminiscent of the Chinese concept of yin and yang, which maintains that each quality contains the seed of its opposite, and that absolute extremes transform into their opposites.

Carl Jung used the term enantiadromia to describe the emergence of the unconscious opposite in our behavior. When an extreme, one-sided tendency dominates our conscious life, our attitude or life experience can flip unpredictably into its opposite, causing pain and tumult.

Too Polite

The purpose of good manners is to make other people feel comfortable. Yet, excessive politeness can make people feel uncomfortable, because they don’t know what the overly-polite person’s TRUE thoughts and feelings are. Extreme good manners can create an atmosphere of anxiety — a feeling of having to walk on eggshells.

Moreover, the true feelings of an overly polite person under great stress may suddenly and violently erupt, because she has had to hold back those feelings. When they explode through layers of politeness, it makes people feel very uncomfortable.

Polite people can benefit from learning to be more direct when certain situations warrant it.

Too Direct

The purpose of being direct is to communicate clearly with honesty and candor. However, if someone is overly and too bluntly direct, he cannot be trusted to be silent, sensitive, or diplomatic when necessary. Extreme bluntness can be offensive, in which case communication may be clear but not effective.

In this case, the value of discretion and good manners need to be integrated.

Communication is most effective when we have some ability to be flexible depending on the situation and type of people we’re dealing with. So if you were brought up to be extremely polite, learn to become more direct around direct people. Someone who’s overly straightforward can benefit by becoming more discreet and gracious around people who value courtesy.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “I can’t stand it when people talk over me!”