Betinah Murungi, a business woman, has been married for seven years. But one and a half years ago, her marriage made a turn for the worst when her husband became someone she does not recognise anymore. He is arrogant, self-centred and does not respect her or their children at all anymore.

“He talks to me rudely and does not care whether we are in front of our children or my siblings,” she says. Her efforts to bring him to order have not yielded results because her husband says he does not care and will continue to do as he pleases.

Murungi is worried that their two children may take after their father because he does not hide his behaviour.
Being arrogant in a relationship undermines your partner’s self-esteem as Deborah Bakuseka, a relationship counsellor, explains. It destroys the person’s self-worth because they always try to keep up with the self-righteousness and arrogance of their partner.

Bakuseka says such behaviour creates resentment from the other partner who may ignore and shut out the arrogant person totally or even quit the relationship.

“Arrogant people are known to humiliate others especially in public or in the presence of people important to them such as parents or in-laws. This usually creates endless fights and revenge in relationships and may damage the relationship permanently,” she discloses.

Two sides of the coin
Sometimes a spouse’s arrogance or sudden change in behaviour may be instigated by the other.

If one has not done anything calling for such a reaction, their spouse has no reason behaving in such a way.

Gloria Akech, a relationship counsellor, says if your partner complains a lot or is being critical about most things you do, it means that something might have happened to them causing this behaviour.

“Situations push people to act in certain ways. One might be insecure at their place of work, or might be having financial constraints or have started earning more than before. All this and more can contribute to a person’s constant complaining and negativity towards the other,” she notes.

Ray of hope
However, one can overcome the situation as Bakuseka notes. Among the things a couple can do to bring the situation back to normal may include being honest, respectful and developing a positive attitude towards one another, among others.

Bakuseka recommends that couples find a good time to talk about the disturbing issues. “Avoid early morning conversations when you or your spouse is grumpy. In the same way, try not to talk immediately when you get home from work. First relax and settle down before you approach one another with complaints,” she cautions.

She, however, says public places are most appropriate venues for such conversations as one is less likely to get upset for fear of being embarrassed. Align as many positive things as you can to set the stage for positive communication.

Give love a chance
It is important to maintain a positive attitude while talking according to the counsellor, as it helps to express one’s optimism about working together to find a lasting solution thus giving a chance to make a difference in the relationship.

“Approach the subject positively but do not let your spouse deter you from your goal of having a good problem-solving conversation. You need to be heard, so focus on what is important; creating a change for the better,” Bakuseka says.

But in cases where your spouse gives a negative response, Bakuseka advises to ignore their responses with a calm but focused discussion. If they respond with an open ear and show you their genuine concern, let them know how you feel about their ways.

Honesty is key
Akech talks about the need to be honest and respectful as it will help to bring peace. She says learning to speak and live by the truth is good but tread carefully not to hurt the other party’s feelings. “Use your words carefully and keep in mind that you are trying to solve a problem which will improve on your communication,” she cautions.

“Respect is earned,” she adds. If one acts in a respectful manner, it will set the stage for being respected in return. But if one feels that they are not being respected, they should open up to the person. “Tell him or her that you should be respectful of each other and promise to do the same. They will automatically revise their ways but only if you stick to your word,” Akech says.

Bakuseka cautions couples to desist from being disrespectful of their partner before their children saying it may lead to power struggles and disrespect from the children as they may also take sides. She adds that in the worst case scenario, the partner who feels disrespected may seek solace in infidelity thus further driving a wedge into the relationship.

She, however, notes that reminding the arrogant person that you are not comfortable with their behaviour is one way of changing the state of the relationship.

But the counsellor says the victim may choose to understand the other person’s behaviour and try to ignore and not let the arrogance get in the way of the love they feel for their spouse.

Coping with your arrogant spouse

Assert your rights. Establish your boundaries and let him know what you will no longer tolerate. You could inform him that the next time he disrespects you in public you will leave the room, then follow through if necessary.

Counselling. Marriage counselling can help the two of you develop healthier ways of communicating with each other. If he refuses to seek help consider going alone so you can build your own self-esteem, learn better coping strategies and how to give him an ultimatum that might change his mind.

Stress reduction. Find time to relax and have fun without your husband. For example, take a relaxing bath, go for a long walk, or meet a friend for coffee. Take care of yourself by exercising regularly, eating healthy and getting a sufficient amount of sleep.

ckatende@ug.nationmedia.com