40 years of faulty wiring

Social Media and Surly, Sour Spouses Make for a Sudden Separation

Temper tantrums are not pretty and usually do not end well. A young, ordinary couple in their 30s, Jim and Whitney, experience a typical domestic argument while driving along in Jim’s pickup truck (that desperately needs to have its tires rotated). Jim has broken a promise to his wife: to spend time with her at the lake that weekend on a boat ride. Her response is one of irate irrationality: she kicks, punches (not him), screams, wails, and throws a temper tantrum that would make a 2-year-old proud. He, on the other hand, does an admirable job of fuelling the fire with his passive-aggressive responses, some of them removed from the topic at hand:

  1. I need to get my tires rotated
  2. you throw tantrums when you want something
  3. we can’t afford it (a visit to the lake?)
  4. all over a pack of cigarettes
  5. all because I have to get shit done to my truck
  6. it’s not my fault
  7. social media is to blame (a comment he made later to an interviewer)

Listening to the conversation carefully, she explains she does “all her shit” before the weekend so they can spend time together on the weekend; he saves the weekend for additional chores. I tend to agree with her. i don’t agree with her volatile reaction but then again, he has sent her off the edge with repetitive, cold behaviour in their marriage. That he is drily amused isn’t helping matters any.

facebook_picHere’s where the social media aspect comes in: Jim surreptitiously videos his wife with his cam-phone, then downloads it onto Youtube where of course it goes viral. Mixed reactions come out of the video: that she is a “psycho” (not true) and he isn’t considerate (true). Bottom line, I haven’t yet seen any comments about the fact that this couple is in desperate need of marital counselling. Jim’s solution is a divorce and a restraining order,;well, that’s one alternative. But I’m not convinced about Jim’s innocence and I do not believe Whitney is a physical threat warranting a restraining order, or a psycho.

And a rationale, loving husband doesn’t videotape his wife having an emotional meltdown then download it onto Youtube.

Here is a quote from an online article about the marital discord: For those who can’t refrain from bashing their spouse online you may want to think twice. The time spent downing your Mrs. or Mr. could be better served elsewhere, like working on your marriage or deciding if your marriage is worth working on. If it’s beyond repair still resist the urge to publicly bash. It is hurtful and you never know who is reading. Besides, regardless of how terrible your spouse may be, you married them and you’re still there. 

tantrum23n-1-webBottom line, Jim is placing the blame on an “it” – social media, rather than where it belongs: on himself. And his wife.  Jim is a major part of the problem here. Let’s take an amateur marital therapist’s look at this is the situation:  Jim agreed to take Whitney to the lake on a boat trip on Saturday. Saturday rolled around and Jim decided that getting his tires rotated, something he could easily have done earlier in the week, was more important than spending time, as promised, with his wife. The pattern of make-a- promise-then-break-a-promise seems to be a regular occurrence in the marriage, as is obvious with statements made by the two of them. And establishing time for two spouses to connect together is vital in keeping a marriage healthy (hoo, boy).

Jim is accountable for:

  1. breaking a date and a promise with his wife
  2. laughing at her obvious duress 
  3. placing his marriage as second priority to his errands
  4. revealing their marital stress to the world via social media

Whitney is accountable for:

  1. reacting inappropriately 
  2. playing the victim role in response to her husband’s anticipated behaviour 
  3. attempting to manipulate her husband with emotional, rather than rational behaviour

They are both responsible for:

  1. not changing their perspectives and not seeking professional help for themselves and their marriage (from what I can tell)

In a wonderfully ironic accusation, Jim tells Whitney she will text all her friends about what a bad husband he is, even while he is filming womanher and planning on humiliating her with the video. This won’t merely reach their friends: it will reach viewers around the world. Yet, Jim insists that it is social media that has destroyed his marriage. I would beg to differ. Social media has nothing to do with this unhappy pair’s unhealthy marriage. The video didn’t download itself onto Youtube. This is about two immature people who do not know how to be married, yet, lack the insight to do something about it.

An objective (admittedly amateur)  perspective into this couple’s marriage might suggest these possible steps to a solution:

  1. Sit down on a calm day and discuss (with a mediator if necessary) what each spouse thinks is the problem in the marriage (NOT what each other does wrong – blame doesn’t ever help anyone).
  2. Agree on a recent conflict of interest then agree on an alternative plan. In this example, Whitney wants to go to the lake on the weekend for a boat trip with Jim.
  3. Jim agrees. Jim must now stick to his promise and look forward to it, not act as though he is simply playing the role of dutiful husband.
  4. Whitney, meantime, must help Jim to find time during the week to have his tires rotated.
  5. He works a 60 hour work wee, ergo, his time is short.
  6. Whitney could take the truck to get the tires rotated so Jim has time for their weekend date.
  7. Whitney could go to the lake by herself or with a friend.

Before you insist that it doesn’t make sense for a couple to separate their interests on the weekend and pursue activities on their own, consider this true scenario: a wife wasn’t happy because her husband continually brought work home on weekends and ignored her and the kids. She nagged and argued and generally lost her mind. One day she went alone to a marital therapist who suggested something very simple: go on outings on her own and make new friends. After a few weeks, her husband finally noticed she wasn’t around on weekends and seemed to be having a lot of fun. He packed up his laptop and asked if he could join her. Many people’s natural instinct would be to say no out of spite, but the idea was to save the marriage so she allowed him to join her. Problem solved.

depositphotos_4252558-Happy-married-coupleThis sounds simple, however, Jim and Whitney’s troubles are a repetitive pattern, as witnessed by Whitney’s meltdown. This means the couple needs to isolate the source of the pattern and prevent it from happening again. Beginning with face to face communication, not communication by email, text, or Youtube, might have been a solid solution here. Miscommunication and an unhealthy cycle of behaviour between the couple are too blame: not social media.

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August 3, 2013 - Posted by | Bizarre yet True, Human psychology, Relationships | , , , ,

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