” Honey, you’re embarrassing me! Don’t tell me you’ve never heard that line, or thought it.
I hear plenty about wives who never speak in a group, and husbands who never shut up. People have partners who misuse words, launch into political rants and are much too fond of bad puns. Some have regrettable table manners or clothing choices. Others think their jokes are hilarious.
“The number of ways for spouses to embarrass each other is almost endless,” says Mark Leary, professor of psychology and neuroscience and director of the Social Psychology Program at Duke University. It is perfectly ordinary in a loving relationship for one spouse to mentally wince from time to time because of something the other spouse has said or done. But chronic feelings of embarrassment, and constant fighting about them, could be a sign of serious problems in the relationship.
Why do we often find a spouse’s faux pas so much more embarrassing than our own? Spouses represent one another. Doesn’t it say something about you if the person you chose to spend your life with tells insensitive jokes or dances with a lamp shade on his head? You may feel torn between your spouse and the people watching the behavior. And there’s the lack of control: “It’s the uncertainty that gets us—how bad is this going to get?” Dr. Leary says.”