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Having trouble with a spouse who says one thing and does another? Dr. K. gives you some pointers on how to combat the flip-flop spouse.


Gabriel Lefrancois
Trying to deal with a partner who says one thing and does anothr can be resolved.


My husband and I have regular arguments because he'll say one thing, but then does another.

One of the factors that increase stress is when something is unpredictable. So, if your spouse is saying that he will do one thing but then does another or doesnít do it at all, it can certainly add to your stress level. And, in your relationships, you look for a sense of trust at the least and hopefully, consistency. Itís easy to see why you feel frustrated.

This is not necessarily something that only men do. Women can often err in this area as well. For those of you who pride yourselves in always being organized or "on top of things," this trait in your partner is downright maddening. Itís almost incomprehensible! Unfortunately, it ends up feeling very disrespectful to you.

There are many reasons that this annoying situation can happen. Here are some:
  1. Some people are just forgetful.
  2. When someone is overextended, itís easy to intend to do something and lose sight of it.
  3. There are those who are "people pleasers." They will over commit and then not be able to follow through on their promises.
  4. Some things donít get done because the person procrastinates. Procrastination is really an insecurity wherein the person is afraid that what they do isnít good enough.
  5. In some instances, this might take the form of the person lying. Surprisingly, a person generally lies because of a fear being judged.
So, with all the stress you likely experience in life, who needs more? How can you deal with your spouse if you are living with someone who has a gap between what they say and what they do?

First, look over the list above. Depending on the cause, the answer will vary. If your partner is just a forgetful type, but thereís a lot else he or she brings to the relationship, you may just have to learn to laugh it off.

If you realize that your mate has too much on his or her plate, it may be time for some readjustment; perhaps you need to pitch in a bit more.

Should your spouse have more of a personal issue, as in the last three reasons, some compassionate sensitivity is required. The two of you might need to talk. Remember to do so without judgment or attack. On a special note, my experience has been that when one partner lies (I am not including a pathological liar), itís important for the other partner to do some self-assessment; often the lying is in response to a spouse who is demanding and harsh and itís easier to just say whatever will be appeasing.

Of course, donít forget about using little behavioral tricks:
  • Reminder notes/ Emails/ Voicemails
  • Playful comments
  • Putting things on the other personís calendar (with a smiley face)
And, always remember to be appreciative when something gets done. Thereís no better way to ensure that a behavior will be repeated than when it gets noticed!

Karen Sherman, Ph.D., (www.drkarensherman.com) is a practicing psychologist in relationships and lifestyle issues for over 20 years. She offers teleseminars and is co-author of Marriage Magic! Find It! Make It Last.



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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.



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