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Dear DSO: Shit Tests vs. Toxic Behavior


Dear DSO,


I recently signed up for the DSO Fraternity and joined the Dead Bedrooms group on Facebook. I see that everyone is talking about shit tests and how to pass them (seems that cocky confidence is the way to go). My thought is that it seems to be hard to tell the difference between shit tests and just bad behavior. When do I treat her playfully with a cocky attitude and when do tell her to stop? 


Rick

Dear Rick,


You are not alone in your confusion. So many men I talk to put up with genuine emotional abuse from their wives… because they don’t want to come across as weak (how ironic). These men feel that stepping up and saying, “STOP” will show their wife that she has emotional control over him… and he is therefore a weakling who can’t take his wife’s abuse. When these men eventually blow their top and explode in a fit of rage, the wife is the first to say he is “too sensitive” or a “big baby”. She knows exactly how to hit him below the belt.


Context is everything.


Wives have a knack for being able to interject little moments that make a man stop in his tracks and say, “Why…?” Here's an example:


You are cleaning the garage. Everything is going well. Suddenly the wife says, “I don’t know why you have all of these tools. It’s not like you ever fix anything or make anything with them.” You immediately think of twelve projects you’ve done around the house in the past two months. She’s obviously just trying to get a rise out of you. How most guys respond in this situation is one of the following:


1.    Ignore the comment and let the anger fester until his wife says, “What is wrong with you today?” He explodes on her in a fit of anger. – This shows that he wasn’t strong enough to face the little comment right then and there. The delayed response and emotional explosion is feminine in nature. She is majorly turned off by that (and so is everyone else in his life).


2.    Yelling. “Why do you have to be such a bitch all the time?!” – This shows that the wife has total control over the emotions of her man. One little comment (test) and he loses his cool. Not good. Immature.


Instead, in this common “test” situation, I recommend a calm, cool, but firm response right at the moment she crosses the line. Something like, “Why would you say that? You know that’s not true. I can’t imagine saying hurtful and untrue things like that to you… so I expect the same from you in return. Understand me?” 


Will this result in some drama? Oh, probably. But, she also can’t accuse you of not manning up and being an adult when you needed to be. You corrected her. You let her know it was not proper behavior from your wife. It was petty and stupid and obviously her trying to get under your skin. If she’s like most wives who are not mentally ill, she will let that fester for a while and then eventually apologize. She will also respect you a great deal.


If she doubles down and insists on escalating her negative behavior, and continues to do so until you feel like the shell of a man you used to be…  well then you have a toxic person on your hands. This isn’t “shit test” territory. This is “run far away from this person” territory.


A wife who says, “I don’t know why you always have to go to the gym. I was hoping you would stay home and watch shows tonight”, is testing you. Can she knock you off your mission with one sentence? This is a perfect example of where playfulness and cockiness can work perfectly. "How on Earth can I make these fantastic man buns of mine even more delicious if I don't go to the gym, you crazy woman!?"


A wife who says, “I don’t know why you always go to the gym. You’re not looking any better. You look the same as you always have. It’s not like you’re going to be some kind of male model or something. You’re just kidding yourself. You’re not like those guys at the gym with the abs and pecs. Not sure who you’re trying to impress with all of this. It’s really pretty pathetic, to be honest.”… is being very toxic.


Context. Know the difference. It’s okay to call her out for being an asshole. Yes, sometimes playfulness and cockiness is the way to go. You’ll feel things out and know what direction to take things in. You won’t be right 100% of the time. That’s perfectly okay. You’re learning.

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