My husband and I were walking through the store and passed a display of weights. He turned to me and jokingly asked, “Don’t you want some dumbbells?” I simply said no. A few minutes later he said “Thanks for just saying no and not taking that opportunity.” It hadn’t even occurred to me to take a pot shot at him and he had set it up so perfectly (not on purpose) for me to reply with, “Why, I already have you.” (He’s really good at setting himself up to be teased.)
He went on to say that it means a lot to him, that I don’t make him the butt of the joke. I replied, “I would rather have a good relationship than a funny moment.”
I would rather have a good relationship than a funny moment
We weren’t always like this, especially when we were first married. We came from families that were always looking to get the dig in and make someone a butt of every joke. Every joke is at someone’s expense, more with my family than his.
At some point, I realized that I had more of a tendency to lash out and make him the butt of the joke after spending time with my mom and sisters. I started to catch myself making some pretty mean jokes at his expense. One time, I was saying something mean and really stupid. Even before I finished what I was saying, I realized how bad it was and I just stopped. I told him I didn’t know where that had come from. It’s not how I feel about him, it’s not what I think and I truly didn’t know why I had said that. This often happened after spending time with my family and it took a lot of work to not do it. It also was one of the things that led to us spending less time with my parents and siblings. I don’t like the way my family treats one another and when I stand up for myself everyone tells me to stop being so thin skinned and to lighten up. It’s very disrespectful.
This kind of treatment not only comes from family but can come from friends as well. It can be hard to control yourself and not join in. Making fun of your partner or children in order to have some attention is a relationship harming activity that eventually leads to hard feelings. Watching sitcoms, you wouldn’t think so. Pay attention to the quips and barbs thrown around on shows. How would those really go over in real life? If someone said those things to you. . . if it was said by someone you really love and care about. . . how would you honestly feel? It made for a funny moment on TV or in a movie but it often doesn’t translate to real life. In real life, we have feelings and our feelings do get hurt.
Love and Respect
My desire has always been to have a family where there is love and respect. A family where everyone enjoys being together without having to make one person or one mistake or slip of the tongue the center of entertainment. A family that you can trust your feelings with and know that they love you enough to not “get you”.
In a family, where everyone is always looking to make fun of one another, you have to always be on your toes and never let your guard down. There isn’t a lot of trust with the people you want and should be able to trust the most, your family.
My girls weren’t going to love, trust or respect their father if I always made him into the fool and the butt of the joke. He’s really good at setting himself up to be teased, but I don’t have to pounce on it, just because it is there. To have the family my husband and I wanted we had to model the behavior we wanted to see.
A husband and wife who constantly tease leads the kids to treat one another and friends the same way. Often “teasing” equals “mean”. This leads to constant tattling, arguing, bickering, fighting, and unhealthy relationships. Before long, your children are labeled as the “mean kids” and no one wants to be their friends. When we focus on the “funny” things the hurt is often left behind but it doesn’t go away. Resentments can build between children, spouses, between children and parents, and between friends and associates.
My husband has always said there is an element of truth even in the joking things we say. I also believe that every joke, at someone’s expense, leaves an element of uncertainty and wonder behind:
- Does he/she really think I’m stupid?
- Why doesn’t he/she respect me?
- Why would you make me feel stupid in front of family and/or friends?
- Is this how you really feel?
- Maybe you just put up with me, but don’t love me as much as I love you.
- I knew he thought I was fat but he didn’t want to say it, and so now he jokes about it. (Is there an underlying message he/she is trying to send me about how he/she really feels?)
- I am so embarrassed, why would he/she do that to me?
- Doesn’t he/she care that I am a little more sensitive about ________________? I thought he/she understood. Why would they bring that up even as a joke?
- That was personal. What else does he/she tell people?
This doesn’t mean that we don’t laugh at funny things, we just don’t make humor at the expense of someone else.
Here are some things to think about:
“Making fun of other people is a sign of a person’s low self esteem. Making fun of others, like bullying, is an effort to raise one’s self esteem by attempting to lower that of anyone else’s. It doesn’t work, of course, because it’s a way to NOT deal with the real problem. Making fun of other people is a sign of a person’s low self esteem.” http://www.answers.com/Q/How_can_people_make_fun_of_people?#slide=2
- Am I making fun of someone?
- Is it the situation that is funny or am I making fun of someone?
- Making fun of someone is when we are making a personal attack about that specific person- we say straight out or allude to negative things about that person. There are some fine lines here, because there are times we should all laugh at ourselves.
- Would I find it funny if it were me? (Keep in mind if the other person doesn’t find it funny, it’s not. You don’t know everything about anyone and you may have hit on something they have issues about.)
- Are you laughing with them or at them?
- Have we twisted the situation just to get attention and a laugh?
- Look at peoples faces and eyes (Are they faking a smile because they don’t want to be made fun of more or cry; are they just trying to hide the hurt or embarrassment.)
- Is making everyone laugh worth the losing your family/friend’s trust and possibly damaging their self-esteem or confidence?
- Is the laugh worth losing trust and potentially, over time the relationship?
- If someone is acting “overly sensitive” then maybe it’s something that shouldn’t be joked about.
- If you love or care about someone you won’t want to push their buttons, unless you are trying to push them away.
We should all strive to be kinder, there are plenty of people outside our family and friends who are unkind. Be that person who makes others feel safe to be themselves. Let’s build one another up instead of tearing one another down. Let’s do all we can to make a home and relationships of love.
Are you going to trade your relationship for a laugh?