Am I Wrong? Critical of SO's behavior

The dear SO and I went on a little jaunt this past weekend. We rarely have real fights. It’s mostly harsh ribbing of one another and we both take it very well. We are both very gregarious and not shy in social situations. I am not Miss Manners and I’m sure I screw up a lot, too.

Background that might assist: I am a great deal younger than SO–he’s almost twice my age and he has a penchant for Tommy Bahama shirts which if you’re not familiar with them, they are father flowery flamboyant aloha shirts. He was wearing one of these on these two different occasions on the way back. These are not particularly common where we were and he stuck out like a sore thumb which does not bother me butmade him all the more, um, noticeable as not from around there.

So, incident one happened in a rather small town between the Texas and Louisiana border. It was close to a gorgeous lake and we were going to stay at a cabin there that night. There wasn’t much to choose from for dinner and it was lateish–around 8:30. We decided to eat a local diner that was smoke filled and had a bare minimun of food choices. But hey what the heck I sat down and we were informed that they had a back up and it would be a 1 hour wait for food. We decided to try somewhere else and a large local family told us to follow them to the only other place in town to eat (other than DQ). It was a long trip through the piney woods and we finally get to a small cafe in the middle of nowhere.

There were only a few items on this menu too. But when it came time to order, SO had to ask the waitress to pick the best entree. She did, but then he said he didn’t want any of the crawfish boil because we had just had too much seafood as we had eaten at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans the night before (Commander’s Palace is high dollar and well known). When he FINALLY picked something, he asked them to change it a bit and then requested that his onion rings only be lightly done… I suppose this is fine when you’re doing a bit of fine dining, but we were lucky to be getting food.

I come from a small town and I know that picky assholes like this are likely to get a little something special put in their order. I told him he was being rude and did it in front of the waitress. This apparently makes me an evil bitch queen. So we had fight number one.

Next up, a stop on I20 in East Texas for some barbeque. It’s Sunday afternoon and it’s a form a line and order type place. There were a couple of cowboys in front of us who weren’t precisely formed in line but were drifted off a bit towards the big menu on the wall. They were about two feet to the side of the next folks in line in front of them. SO runs in front of the cowboys, asked them if they were in line. The cowboys just stare at him. I hadn’t even decided what to eat yet so I sure as heck could have waited a minute so I grab SO and say “you must be starving but hold on a sec and let these guys go first.” He stormed out, told me I shouldn’t criticize him in public and told me we were leaving.

I just ordered food for two to go after the cowboys ordered and came to the car thinking he had calmed down. No such luck. He asked if one of the sandwiches was for him–I told him yes and he threw it and his drink out the window. He NEVER does stuff like this–it’s so out of character. We drive home for another 2 1/2 hours not saying a word to each other.

So was I wrong? I know there are probably better ways to handle it, but 1) I didn’t want to risk that special something in my food at the 1st place and didn’t want the East TX cowboys to kick his ass.

Not many people like to be criticized in front of strangers, especially by their SO. The best thing would have been to chat friendly with the waitress (try and smooth things over if you thought that was needed) and then later explain to your SO how being picky in a rural cafe might get you that extra touch of home cookin’. Calling him rude is shorthand and he may have been rude, but by explaining how the situation could be considered rude instead would more likely get you a partner who would listen instead of being defensive.

Sorry–I’m not with either of you on this.

Rule number one: Make praise public and criticism private. You humiliated him on both occasions. No good!
Rule number two: Don’t throw a crybaby temper tantrum, ever. He threw his food out the window like a six-year-old. No good!

As for the specifics:
When he special-ordered food, did he do it in a polite fashion, apologizing for the bother? If so, I see no problem with that–and I speak as someone who worked in crappy restaurants. If, however, he was demanding and peremptory, or worse, then that’s a problem, and it would’ve been a good idea to talk with him about it in private. And even in my crappy restaurant, the worst thing that the worst customer ever got was wayyyy too much mustard on her sandwich after she’d sent it back for the third time for not having enough mustard.

As for asking the cowboys if they were in line, that is totally appropriate. Who the hell minds being asked if they’re in line? If the cowboys had “kicked his ass” for his asking a question, then they’re psychos, and you can’t live our life expecting everyone around you to be a psycho. I think it was totally inappropriate to behave as you did in that situation.

But still, throwing his food out the window is ridiculous.


The first situation is on your shoulders but the second is all his and something I’d not expect out of anyone older than ten. Christ.

I don’t think what you did was wrong, necessarily…sounds like he didn’t really leave you a good way out, or a chance to say anything in private to head off any consequences of his actions. Of course, the tone of a comment can be as important as the comment itself, so I can’t make a good judgment on it.

I do sympathize, however. A good friend of mine would sometimes have days where he just begged everyone to kick his ass, and as we were together, that usually meant I’d be in the middle of it too. if you’re otherwise happy with your SO, then I’d chalk it up to a male PMS type thing, and go on.

As far as patching things up…you two need to talk. There’s no other solution for it. Is he communicative usually? Or does he clam up whenever there is a conflict?

Trying to run a prevent defense for your SO never works. If he’s going to get something “extra” in his entree, or have his ass kicked by some cowboys, so be it. Let him fight his own battles. And if his public behavior embarrasses you, bring it up in private later.

It’s interesting that he responded to your mothering by acting like a child. You might want to watch for this dynamic in your relationship with him.

Hmm, yeah probably should have done the rude comment in private, but the cowboys didn’t answer him or didn’t have a chance before he bolted in front of them. And, yeah, they were in line. I thought it was pretty clear–they were just two feet away from forming a precise line.

As far as asking nicely for the food changes, he said, “Tell the cook to very lightly fry the onion rings.” And he didn’t ask if he could make the changes on his meal–just told her–right after he sneered at her crawfish boil saying we had just eaten at the high falutin’ restaurant. And that crawfish boil was FANTASTIC. Those suckers were fat and spicy.

He threw his food out the window?! Like a little kid having a temper tantrum? Jeebus, I would have to assume that was out of character, since I sincerely hope no self-respecting Doper would put up with that sort of behavior on a regular basis.

Out of curiosity, is he used to the more, um, laissez-faire type of dining experience? I could almost see him not really realizing he was being a butthead in the first situation if he’d never been to such an establishment. But I cannot imagine asking for someone’s suggestions, then pooh-poohing them. That’s just being an asshat, regardless of setting. I can also kind of see him getting pissed–even when you’re being an asshat, it’s embarrassing to have that fact pointed out in front of a stranger.

That second incident, I can see his point, sort of. I mean, if they weren’t in line, and weren’t ready to order, I’d probably have asked if it was okay hop on in, too. If, that is, they were milling around aimlessly and it looked like it was going to take a while for them to get their shit together. For two people, though, the delay wouldn’t have been significant enough to make a difference to me, especially if I wasn’t already familiar with the menu and sure of what I wanted.

I can see him being a bit cranky about you pulling him back when he had a reasonable point for hopping on into line, but his reaction seems way, way, WAY out of proportion. I could understand snapping that they weren’t in line, but not storming out in a huff and most certainly not tossing his food out the window like a bratty four-year-old. That’s just…off, really.

Have you ever had reason to criticize him before? Under what circumstances? How did he take it then?

Sounds like a case of too much togetherness. My fiance and I sometimes have ridiculous fights when we’ve spent too much time together.

And I act like a baby sometimes too, so I can’t look down on you SO for throwing his food. It was an act of dramatics, but ultimately, he probably regretted it because he didn’t get to eat. At least you can think of it that way.

Ah–I didn’t get from the OP that he took their silence as an answer. Yeah, that was rude of him. Even then, I think a better response on your part would’ve been to say, “Hey, I think they’re in line, we should probably let them go ahead of us,” and then turn back to the cowboys and say, “Y’all wanna go on?” If he stormed out after that, then I’d be totally on your side, instead of thinking you were both pretty rude.

The sneering thing is no good, but I still highly doubt it would’ve earned him “something extra.” You shouldn’t have said anything.


Aesiron et al. His SO publically humiliated him twice within a few days (it’s not clear how close together the events described in the OP occurred), and you’re suprised when he lost it and perhaps overreacted the seocond time?

And I should say, I was a bit embarrased, too, but if I freaked out everytime he did that we’d be in trouble. He enjoys pushing the limits of conservative social behavior and most of the time it’s good. He taught me that you can strike conversations up with total strangers in situations I would never have dreamed.

Stonebow he never accepts criticism well even if it’s put in nice coaching terms. He kinda’ believes that if he wants to do something and it shouldn’t hurt anyone in his opinion, he can’t accept the idea that others may have opinions that it sometimes does hurt other people.

Fessie Interesting though about the mothering thing. I thought about it and I don’t think it’s the norm for me to do it to him, but it’s something I think I shall keep an eye on.

Funny, in a sense you’re a lot like me. I’m guessing at least one of two things are going on:

  1. You are getting fed up with him for not being social enough to others (including you, because his behavoir to others reflects on you, not just in terms of extra food ingredients but also in terms of the shirts he wears), and he you for not being loyal enough in front of others.

  2. You’re getting slightly fed up with each other after having spent a lot of ‘quality’ time together and this is an area in which it expresses itself first, because these are two things in which you irritate each other the most.

It sounds quite simply like something you need to have a healthy discussion about and you’ll get this out of the way easily enough.

The polite way of dealing with the situation would have been to tell him what he was doing wrong afterwards, and suffer a little in the meantime. You can indicate that you’re not pleased, but if he doesn’t pick up on it through subtle means, you’ll just have to endure. In the meantime, he’ll need to accept that there are certain things he can learn from you.

I’ve experienced something similar when my first girlfriend starting to cry when I disagreed with her during a class-discussion in a lit-class seminar, telling me that I wasn’t loyal to her. From this event, she learnt from me that disagreeing with her doesn’t aumatically mean I’m not loyal, and I learnt from her that I could disagree with her in a very political manner - instead of “nah, that’s bullshit, I think it’s like this:” - I could also say “I think that you might also consider the possibility that:”).

These are useful skills. I still prefer to hang with people that can take the short line version: “I disagree because” but when circumstances (sensitive issues, sensitive people) demand a little more tact, it’s nice to have the tools to deal with them.

A basic strategy is always leave options. In the case of the Onion Rings, that is hard though - I’d have asked the nurse emphatically that you wanted your onion rings ‘regular’, winking. Depending on the response, you’d know for sure if you were right, you’d probably have saved your SO the special ingredient, and you could tell your SO about your own experiences in small towns and what you thought at that time. Makes it a lot easier to deal with for him, with something that is, after all, criticism, something few people deal with very well.

In the case of the cowboys, you could have said that you were having a tough time deciding and didn’t want to hurry to make your decision. That would have left him the option to let the cowboys go first anyway. He did ask them if they were first however, so the cowboys had the option also to say, yes. If they’d punch him after that question, honestly, they’d have punched him anyway. Part of this is no doubt your insecurity over that he stands out so much as a foreigner.

Anyway, just my 2 cents. I’m sure the real Miss Manners has more useful things to say. :smiley:

Yeah, I’m surprised! If my wife did these two things to me*, she would’ve gotten my Chilly Eyes of Death immediately after the cowboy incident; I would’ve bowed the cowboys ahead of me; and then over the meal, I would’ve told her in no uncertain terms that I did not appreciate her treating me in such a patronizing fashion in public.

I wouldn’t have held my breath until I turned blue. I wouldn’t have thrown myself on the floor and started screaming. And I wouldn’t have stormed out of the restaurant to sulk in the car, and then thrown my food out the window when my wife arrived.


  • Hypothetically speaking, of course; this thread is really making me appreciate my marriage.

LeftHandofDorkness All I said at the BBQ place was “you must be starving but hold on a sec and let these guys go first.”

I think maybe I should have just done nothing on the 1st one, and I’ll apologize tonight. The second I don’t think I humiliated him–we were ordering together and I wasn’t even ready yet though the cowboys were.

FYI, these were 2 days apart.

btw- I re-read this sentence several times, and still can’t quite comprehend a human being actually saying this. Thing is, I don’t even know him, and now i want to kick his ass.

-stonebow, who can’t stop thinknig about pan-fried semen now

Yeah, put me in Mr. BBJ’s place, I’d have been irritated also.

This is the part that sent up alarm bells for me. I used to do this when I was in high school and early in my college career. In retrospect, I was an annoying, button-pushing, judgemental little brat. In my opinion, this is not something that mature adults do. Especially if one’s primary aim is to get a reaction. “Ooh, look, we’re goofin’ on the squares!” :rolleyes:

That and the “never accepting criticism well”. That’s a problem, especially if it even occurs when the critic (you, in this case) is trying to phrase it as diplomatically as possible.

And I agree with Aesiron: the first situation is more your fault, and the second situation is all his. Throwing his food and drink out the window? I’m sure he was embarrassed, but that’s just childish.

We have different definitions of humiliation then. While I agree **Jeanie **shouldn’t have said anything the first time and could have handled the situation more diplpmatically the second time, she never did anything that I would consider more than mildly annoying.

The husband, on the other hand, sounds like someone I wouldn’t want to socialize with at all.

OK, maybe the second one wasn’t so bad on your part. He probably* saw it, though, as to some extent equivalent to what he’d just fought with you over two days earlier, hence the overreaction.

  • I’m just hypothesising here–I’ve never met you or your SO of course!