Updated: Jan 25
Judging is a fun pastime. Who doesn’t enjoy laughing at other people’s expense? Of course, not to their face, but behind their backs - that’s the civilized way. On the other hand, judging your significant other is not funny, not for them or you. Not all judgments are the same, they come in so many forms. What I’m talking about here is the kind of judgment that couples lob at each other towards the end of a heated argument - and right before the insults begin.
No one likes to be judged. Perhaps you would if you trained hard, performed admirably, got a high score or were declared the winner. Beyond competing, not being scored doesn’t mean you’re not being judged. We are constantly evaluated. At work, at school, on the street, by our peers, our superiors, and even by our subordinates. Judged against the law, against what is acceptable, against others. As a man, a woman, a non-binary. As a young, old, fit, tall, fat, short, black, white, and everything in between. Luckily, we have options in many situations, including not caring. But that is not the case when you’re judged by your spouse. You want to be judged FAVORABLY by your significant other. We become indignant, disappointed, and hurt when they judge us harshly.
Harsh judgments will hurt regardless, even if it hints at the truth. Distilling all of what you are into one word robs us of the complexity that makes us unique. Whatever happened to the loving things we said, the carrying touches we provided, and the support we gave that prove the opposite? You have the right to be disappointed by a one-word judgment said in anger.
What is Bad Judgment?
Judgment comes in different flavors; some of it is warranted. For instance, when you can discern your beloved mood or what’s on their mind. Your conclusion is on point when you ask your partner, “is anything a matter?” knowing that they’re having a bad day or there is something on their mind. How did you arrive at that judgment? Well, it’s probably on a subconscious level gleaned from their energy, words, or body language.
Unwarranted judgments are the ones that suspects a selfish motive and concludes a bad intention. These types of judgments will weaken the connection between the two. Unwarranted sweeping judgment is an attack on the person’s essence. Such words of contempt are shouted across the room in the heat of battle: arguments and fights.
There is a pattern for when these unwarranted judgments rear their hateful head. It starts when one has an issue that needs to be addressed, a demand follows, an argument ensues about whether the demand is reasonable/realistic/acceptable, then it turns into accusations and blame until it devolves into personal insults peppered with one-word judgments meant to hurt the other.
What must be done?
Take a deep breath and think before using your words. When you’re having an argument over a demand, as yourself, “if you think they’re being difficult, unreasonable or controlling etc. if your conclusion is a one-word conclusion you should realize that you have made an unwarranted judgment. The person before you doesn’t deserve your accusation. They were at some point the object of your love (maybe they still are when you’re not arguing); they are the same person who worries about you, the same person who works hard to make you happy. Can you reconcile your judgment with the love, care and support they provided you with? Of course not, and that’s why you double down and start selectively focusing on all of the “bad” things they said or did. You demonize them. Poor you - such a victim.
Take a step back. Instead of sticking on your breast “Hello My Name is: ‘Victim’” you should erase that word and write: “Partner,” “listener,” “Supporter.” Start by saying to yourself, ‘I really don’t understand their problem, but I will do my best to understand.’ If you’re arguing while standing up, ask if the two of you can sit down. If you’re animated, take a deep breath and loosen the tension in your shoulders. If your voice is elevated, bring it down a few notches and slow your words.
Your partner doesn’t love arguing; they have an issue they need your help with. Take a look at the complexity of the situation and know that you’re smarter than resorting to these one-word accusations. Take responsibility and take those initial steps towards understanding. You’re not a victim; you are one-half of the solution, so embrace your role.
Practice and help your partner the next time an issue turns into an argument. Make the argument work for your relationship, pause the fight and have the discussion instead. This is how you can change the trajectory of your relationship. This is how you nurture it and make it grow stronger. The only warranted judgment you should conclude is that addressing your partner’s concern will make your relationship stronger.