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'I crushed my husband's feelings after his first standup comedy set. What do I do?' UPDATED

'I crushed my husband's feelings after his first standup comedy set. What do I do?' UPDATED

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A lot of times when people ask for feedback they don't want full feedback, they just want support.

"I (29f) crushed my (28m) husband's feelings...what do I do?"

My (29f) husband (28m) decided to try out standup comedy at an open mic night. I was so excited because he's hilarious! I asked him if he wanted to practice with me, but he said no. He wanted it to be a surprise. So I finally got to watch him perform the other night. His delivery was great, he's got good stage presence, and just getting up there at all takes a lot of courage.

But his material...it was one extended d-k joke. Some members of the audience loved it. They were in the minority. Most of the audience looked uncomfortable and slightly appalled. After his performance as we were walking home, he asked me "did you like it?" And I said I didn't like his material because "it was basically one big d*ck joke."

I then said that he had great stage presence and I think this could be the start of something awesome if he worked on his material. He got upset and said that I was a buzzkill. He said that everyone was laughing besides me, and I pointed out that they weren't-not even the majority of the crowd was. He's really upset with me.

He says he was really nervous about doing it and was just proud of having done it, but I made him feel ashamed. He's unhappy now and says there's nothing I can do to fix it. I told him that I was sorry for being too critical. I've been performing since I was 5, and my mom never gave me praise, only "constructive criticism," so I grew up thinking that caring about someone meant telling them how they could improve.

I should have told him how proud I was first before I told him what I didn't like. He says I've ruined his debut performance, and nothing will change that. Is there anything I can do? I told him I would work on being less critical, but he says it doesn't fix anything that already happened. Do I just have to accept he's going to be mad at me for the next however long?

Commenters had a lot to say in response.

justmeraw wrote:

Here's some constructive criticism for you. Don't lead with what he did wrong and then follow it up with what he did well.

OP responded:

No, you're right. When I got criticism from my mom, there was never any "What I did well," so I never really learned how to give good feedback to loved ones. And at my job, people appreciate my bluntness.

I'm specifically sought out for feedback because I don't sugarcoat and just give it to people straight. But my husband is a kind and sensitive soul, and I love him so much. I feel horrible that I hurt him. This whole thing has made me step back and reflect on how I communicate with him.

hurtfulproduct wrote:

Family guy may have made a joke out of it but the “compliment sandwich” works pretty well if delivered right. Start with something he did well and is strong in that you liked (bread slice), then talk about how he can improve (the filling, in this case his material being a d--k joke), then finish with another compliment/strong suite (second piece of bread).

It helps lessen the blow and let him know you WERE watching and that you do think he is good but there is room for improvement.

kholzie wrote:

He’s gonna hate doing stand-up if he can’t handle bombing sets. That aside, your delivery needs work.

Royal-Heron-11 wrote:

This is the most important part of this all. Yes, she should've led with what was good then dropped the bad news. But at the end of the day, if you listen to any successful stand up comics talk about when they were getting started, they will all say the same things. They were awful, they should get boo'd off stage, bomb set after set. That the entire process is basically one giant desensitization to failure

I've never heard a single comic say "yeah idk I showed up to an open mic and absolutely k*lled it. Then just kept going back and never bombed a set". Even the all time greats like Chappelle still bomb sets till this day from time to time. If his skin is too thin to deal with mild constructive criticism, he's not cut out for it. All she said was it was one big d-k joke, not everyone finds d-k jokes funny.

amandarae1023 wrote:

It sounds like based on your comments that you’ve been doing some self reflection. Sometimes people just need support, for your to tell them you’re proud that they conquered a fear, and then you could have told him what did make you laugh. It’s his first show. He’s got a lot to learn but even you said what a great presence he is.

It really is okay to just hype people up and not criticize them. There's a time and a place and when he’s riding the high of a performance, it isn’t then.

Part of growing is learning about ourselves and why we act the way we do.

It’s how we can make adjustments to get to who we want to be. It’ll probably take him some time to get past how it made him feel, and it’s gonna take you some time to learn, but I hope you find a good balance. It might help to think of how it made you feel as a kid to hear that, and understand that that’s what you’re leaving people you care about to feel.

LadyKlepsydra wrote:

Best, most well received constructive criticism means the sandwich method: a compliment, what could be done better, another complement. I'm surprised you are so into the concept of constructive criticism, but don't actually do it correctly?

But also, he kinda sucks too. You were the only one who didn't laugh? Sounds like he is willing to bend reality to make you the main villain of the story. Not much you can do about that, and if I were you, I would also correct that by pointing out most people didn't laugh. It may make him more hurt, but I'm not gonna enable some alternative reality in which I was the Bad Guy just so he feels better.

But you still should have done the sandwich. I would apologize for being harsh and give him time. But you already apologized, so... I guess give him time now. And in the future, take into account that sometimes people just want a pat on the back, not constructive criticism.

OP responded:

I'm definitely the villain in his narrative right now...partially deservedly so, but I don't think I'm as bad as he's making me out to be (I've "ruined stand-up " for him and he "never wants to perform again.").

But yeah, he was looking for a pat on the back and I don't do false praise. In hindsight, though, when he asked if I liked it, I could have said "you have great stage presence" and/or "I'm really proud you did it." It's been a learning opportunity for me and has caused me to think a lot about how I communicate with him, not just about this.

torchedinflames999 wrote:

So you gave him constructive criticism when all he wanted was to be reassured after doing something outside his comfort zone?

Wow the apple really DOES fall quite close to the tree.

Tell him that your past drove you to say those things and that you are sorry. As you well know, local comedy clubs usually give classes. Buy them for him and tell him you love him. ALSO you need to check your response whenever he asks for your opinion. Do you think this is the FIRST time you have provided him with constructive criticism? Really?

OP responded:

I've already apologized, but he's not interested in my apology, so I'm not sure what else I can do. We're on a very, very tight budget, but I can try to start saving up for classes. And you're right. I'm too hard on him. He likes to have me critique his writing without holding back, and I've carried that dynamic into the rest of our relationship. The whole thing has been eye-opening.

Two days later, OP shared an update.

I gave my husband time and space like some of you suggested, and after a day, he brought it up with me again. He said my criticism was fair and helpful, but telling him what I did when I did hurt him and took away from an otherwise great night. Essentially, it wasn't what I said, it was when I said it.

I apologized again and told him that I hoped he would continue to do stand-up because it seemed like it made him happy, and that some people there found him really funny. We talked for awhile after that about his set; I used the "s-t sandwich" technique y'all suggested and he said he agreed with and appreciated the feedback.

He's still hurt because what I did will always cloud the joy associated with his first stand-up experience. And he said he doesn't know if he wants me to come see him if he does it again, which I agreed was fair, although I hope he does eventually let me come. But overall, I think we're in a good place. We're going on a date this weekend, and we're both really looking forward to it.

As far as my mother, some of you seemed to think I was using her criticism of me to excuse my behavior. I wasn't. I was trying to explain that in my child brain, I interpreted my mom tearing me down as love, because how else do you rationalize that as a young child? And because that's how I learned to show love, that's what I did to my husband.

People told me I should have been supportive, but I thought I was being supportive, because that's how it was modeled for me. It's something I hadn't confronted until I was lying awake trying to figure out why I would hurt someone I love. Now that I know, I asked my husband if I had been overly critical of him before. He said yes, but up until this point he had shrugged it off and let it go.

I told him to please call me out on it going forward. It might be the way I am right now, but it's not the way I want to be, especially for our child. Now that I've figured out the root of the problem, I feel like I have a better chance of changing myself. Others have said my husband doesn't have the mentality to succeed in comedy because of his reaction to my criticism. Maybe, maybe not.

I think he would have been receptive to it if I had waited until the excitement and post-performance high had worn off. And getting negative feedback from your spouse is different than random strangers. Lastly, more than a couple of you suggested I give him a BJ so he gets over it. I'm not planning on using intimacy to replace communication in our marriage. I'm kind of surprised that works for anyone, to be honest.

To everyone who replied, thanks for your input. I feel like I've learned a lot in the past 48 hours, and I'm slightly mortified that this has apparently been a thing my husband has been suffering in silence with for awhile now. Hopefully this will help me be a better partner going forward.

People had a lot to say in response.

Quirky_Movies wrote:

"And he said he doesn't know if he wants me to come see him if he does it again, which I agreed was fai."

Trust me, you won't want to see his act in 6 months. You'll have heard it over and over. It's honestly for the best if family only comes to the big shows.

Dwarf797 wrote:

I’m glad you two talked like mature adults and figured this out. It’s amazing what communication does in a relationship. I hope you are about to change the error of your way’s and that your husband tries the stand up thing again.

duckduckthis99 wrote:

I use to have the same problem has you except I did it to everyone. Identifying the behavior and replacing it with beneficial behaviors is more effective than stopping the behavior. Keep practicing and read up on different ways to graciously compliment people without loosing your genuineness. It gets easier from here :)

capp_90 wrote:

Taking criticism is like a muscle you have to exercise. Your husband just isn't used to it. At the same time, in the long run, your husband is going to eat negative criticism from so many strangers (YouTube and Twitter are where I get the nastiest crits) that he'll need support to feel like his endeavors aren't a waste (this early on any way). I think you need to remember to continue being supportive to him.

Just how much is your constructive criticism worth it to you if your husband feels this deflated after? I'm not saying you were wrong for being honest with him, but it's a delicate matter, and just keep in mind that any criticism you might have of his material, other people who care about him less will be saying much harsher things.

Sources: Reddit
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