Weaponizing Incompetence in Relationships: Persistence and Patience

Aamir Ranjha

Weaponizing Incompetence in Relationships Persistence and Patience

Weaponizing Incompetence in Relationships: Persistence and Patience

Here in this post, we are discussing “Weaponizing Incompetence in Relationships: Persistence and Patience”.  You can read more about psychology-related material on our website. Keep visiting Psychology Roots.

Incompetence in relationships is not an uncommon trait. We all have our areas of weakness and struggle to keep up with certain tasks or responsibilities. However, some individuals may take advantage of their incompetence to avoid accountability or responsibility in their relationships. This behavior, known as weaponizing incompetence, can have a detrimental effect on relationships, leading to a breakdown in communication, trust, and respect.

In this blog, we’ll explore the concept of weaponizing incompetence in relationships, its impact on individuals and relationships, and provide tips on how to deal with this behavior in a constructive way. By persisting and exercising patience, we can change the dynamic with our partner and build healthier, more fulfilling relationships.

Weaponizing Incompetence in Relationships Persistence and Patience
Weaponizing Incompetence in Relationships Persistence and Patience

Daily life Examples of Weaponizing Incompetence

When it comes to relationships, weaponizing incompetence may take on a few different forms; nonetheless, the fundamental motivation, which is to escape responsibility and accountability, remains the same. The following are some instances of how some spouses may utilise their incompetence to their own benefit:

After seven years of marriage, Julia* came to visit me because she had reached her breaking point with Jay*. “We share the same responsibilities as parents, income, and residence. He is as aware as I am of the abundance of kid-friendly activities available. Yet I always seem to find more to do!”

Is it possible that ineptitude has been weaponized? It’s a wonderful description of what occurs when one person gets their way by stumbling into a hole of ineptitude and leaving the other person with the unfinished task. The name originated on TikTok.

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They constantly fell back on the same routine: she would outline what needed to be done for the family’s routines, such as preparing the kids’ lunches or organising after-school practises, and he would follow her lead. At first, Jay would do what she instructed, but he often lost important details or texted her many times within the course of a single workday. She would get fatigued and irritated as she tried to “do it properly” for him after he seemed to mess up again. Repetition is the key.

I learned more about the couple’s histories thanks to our group therapy sessions. Both of them were first-generation Korean Americans who grew up in Southern California; as the younger sibling, Julia was taught to defer to her parents and elder brother. Unconsciously, she had begun to follow a pattern of placing an undue amount of emphasis on other people’s needs and preferences.

Yet Jay, the firstborn son, grew up in a household where his parents placed a premium on his success in school and the workplace. The majority of the housework and child care responsibilities were handled by his mother. His engineer father was the family patriarch and a man prone to explosive temper tantrums that would flare up, simmer, and then die down without ever being addressed. Because of this, Jay has learnt to keep his head down and work without distractions.

Marriage and parenting brought them into direct conflict with the roles and routines they had established earlier in life. Julia had returned to her traditional position as breadwinner, but her capacity to juggle her new responsibilities as a working mother had reached its limit. Jay was also following his familiar pattern:

he paid little attention to the logistics of housework and continued to ignore his responsibilities in that area. He agreed with Julia that the youngsters had too strict of a routine but, to avoid an argument, never said so. On the contrary, he only partially followed her instructions. Yet, this indirect communication was making the situation worse.

The only way for Julia to break the cycle was for her to recognise the ways in which she was re-enacting the script from her childhood, such as by taking on more than her fair share and failing to realistically believe that she could successfully ask for what she needed. Although feeling resentful, she continued to perform the labour, which only served to reinforce Jay’s apparent incompetence to run their household.

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For his part, Jay recognised that he had been reluctant to communicate his thoughts on how to manage family life, such as being less strict about the foods the kids took for lunch and reducing the amount of after-school activities. Attempting to avoid argument, he had managed to stifle his own inner monologue.

He realised that Julia was open to hearing him out and that his thoughts were just as valid as anybody else’s. He also realised that, in contrast to his parents’ relationship, he and his partner would be more successful if they worked together to divide and conquer the home and parenting responsibilities.

They decided to meet regularly on Sunday afternoons to plan out the week’s activities. Julia didn’t want to be the “providing instructions like a traffic officer” kind of partner in the home planning process. Jay, on the other hand, was the one to make the initiative to voice his own thoughts on streamlining the kids’ routines.

An instant classic was born. As this new way of interacting was foreign to both parties, it required time to perfect. Both Julia and Jay had to overcome their respective tendencies to retreat from the situation when conflict arose at home (Julia through working too much) and at the office, respectively. Both, however, eventually learned to speak out for what they wanted and to listen attentively to the other person.

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I am a senior clinical psychologist with over 11years of experience in the field. I am the founder of Psychology Roots, a platform that provides solutions and support to learners and professionals in psychology. My goal is to help people understand and improve their mental health, and to empower them to live happier and healthier lives.

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