Why is it that, for some people, the fact that they're married to someone is seen to include the right to put down that person in public? I have witnessed scenes of public degradation of a spouse that I would have rather not been privy to. Sometimes it was overt and other times it was subtle—which personally offends me more—but it was always ugly. I have heard complaints from men and women that their spouse not only does not support them in front of their children and among family, but that if they are in a group of friends or other outsiders their spouse leads the pack in mockery and degradation of their job, their weight, their earning potential, their child raising capability, their homemaking ability, etc.

I am always amazed when I hear these stories from couples coming in for counseling, and even more so when I witness it myself. How can a self-respecting man or woman sit at the dinner table or at a public gathering and degrade his or her own spouse? How can they turn the one whom they married, whom they chose as their lifetime partner, into a public laughing stock?

What many don't realize is that if their spouse is an object of derision, it doesn't make them look very good either. How smart can they be that they chose to marry someone so dumb, clumsy or insensitive, etc.?

The wife who pokes fun at her uncompetitive husband proves nothing about her spouse, only something about herself. She is proof that her husband got caught in a marriage with someone who doesn't understand the basic tenets of respect in a marriage. Conversely, the husband who pokes fun at his wife's clumsy housekeeping proves nothing about her other than that she is human; he also demonstrates that she was unlucky enough to marry an unsupportive spouse. In each case, the spouse that pokes fun has deep insecurities, and cannot deal with public displays of human imperfection; so he/she attacks the other spouse no matter who is there to witness it or what the repercussions to their relationship will be.

Interestingly enough, while those who witness this public humiliation may laugh along with the offending spouse, it is the one who does the embarrassing who ends up hurting his/her own image most of all, with his/her obvious mean-spiritedness. On the other hand, when people see that a spouse respects, defends, and praises their "better half" they gain respect for the couple. Those are the couples that are envied.

A couple with real issues should see a counselor or therapist. Certainly marital issues should never be discussed in public — even in jest.

We must learn to respect our marriage partners, with all their strengths and weaknesses. No one is perfect. But imperfections notwithstanding, everyone deserves support and respect from their partner in life.