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          Stop Excusing Inexcusable Behavior

          December 05, 2002

          You can’t sustain a relationship that is based on deception. If lies, infidelity, or other deal-breaking behaviors are threatening your marriage or partnership, Dr. Phil has advice.

          • Remember that you teach people how to treat you. Your partner is doing what he/she is doing because they can. If you’re allowing the behavior to continue by making excuses for your partner and blaming yourself, stop. If you want to be treated with dignity and respect, stand up and require it.
          • You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. First, acknowledge that there is something wrong. If what is happening isn’t normal, admit it. You need to set some new standards of acceptable behavior and your partner needs to know what those standards are.
          • If you truly want the relationship to work, be real with yourself and your partner. Be completely honest and truthful with your partner about your wants and needs. People who have nothing to hide, hide nothing. You should be an open book to your mate.
          • Be as forthcoming as you can be with your partner before entering into a commitment. If there are things your partner has the right to know before marriage so that he/she can make an honest and informed decision, tell him/her.
          • If you are the person who has damaged the relationship, make sure that you hear your partner. He/she needs to know that you have listened and understand the full gravity of your actions and how they have affected him/her. Acknowledge the damage your behavior has caused to your partner’s self-esteem, mental state and emotions.
          • Understand that any time you turn away from your partner to fill your needs instead of toward him/her, it’s a betrayal. It’s not just what you do — it’s what you don’t do. You can violate someone by withholding affection.
          • Look at your situation and ask yourself if you are willing to settle for this. If you knew that things would never change, would you stay? Never invest more in a relationship than you can afford to lose.
          • If you have children or are considering getting pregnant, understand that you have a responsibility for the effect that your choices have on them. Do not put your children in the middle of the fray and make them pick up the tab for your irresponsible behavior.
          • Don’t argue in front of your children. When you do, you change who they are forever. Kids tend to think that problems in the home are their fault.
          • If you need professional help, get it — not for one week or two — but until you have a clear direction.

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