In the latest chapter of our new book, Snap Strategies for Couples: 40 Fast Fixes for Everyday Relationship Pitfalls, Dr. Pepper and I remind everyone to always have your partner's back. Enjoy another free sample!
Being part of a couple has similarities to being part of a team; it comes with responsibilities. As a team member, you look out for the good of the team, you behave in ways that enhance the team, and you do your best at the job you are assigned. The same is true of being a partner. Being part of a couple with someone you love comes with obligations, and one of those responsibilities—perhaps the most important one—is looking out for each other. This is part of your marital vow (or its equivalent in a nonmarital but committed relationship). Regardless of what you think or feel at any one time, you, as the popular saying goes, “have your partner’s back.” That is true regardless of who is present, even if it is other people you admire and are close to. You never knowingly embarrass your partner. You never publically side with a close friend over your partner, except perhaps in trivial ways, such as preferring one movie to another. Your partner should never have to worry that you will undercut him or her in front of strangers, friends, coworkers, or family, or anyone else.
There are two especially sticky parts to this commitment to protecting your partner’s flank. First, when you don’t agree with your partner, when you think he or she is dead wrong, or maybe inappropriate, it can be hard to have your partner’s back. We recognize this is tough, but the right call is to back your partner, your teammate. It is perfectly appropriate and necessary that you talk about what happened at a time when you can both be calm and listen and understand each other’s point of view. You can disagree on what’s important and what happened, but you do it in private.
The second sticky part is the "who.” You might think your partner is fair game if he or she is being teased or ridiculed by siblings or a parent, but no. Always, always put your partner first.
In fact, families and friends can be most cruel in bringing up the past in a way that is humiliating, and no one wants to be humiliated, even if they may try to laugh it off. More subtle but perhaps more harmful are labels from the past, such as “She was always the crazy one” or “He always had two left feet.” These labels are ancient history and have no merit in the present and no business in your relationship. They do harm. Be loyal to the one you love; everyone else is an outsider. These are important boundaries that define you as a couple.
Again, for the other pages of the chapter and the rest of the book, order here!