There comes a point in every man’s life where he’ll be faced with a critical conundrum—one with dire consequences if he makes the wrong choice. It’s the matter of how a man should respond when his partner is in the wrong. Generally speaking, it’s highly unlikely that any woman will be in the right emotional state to hear anything contradictory to her current stance, especially not from her significant other. 

Take actress Reese Witherspoon, for example. In April she made headlines following a belligerent exchange with the Atlanta police officer arresting her husband Jim Toth for DUI. I recently saw the video footage of Witherspoon’s exchange, which shows the star mouthing off to the officer while her handcuffed husband pleads with her to calm down.

After several warnings, Reese is restrained and placed into the back of the squad car, charged with disorderly conduct. Jim looks on in disbelief, and when the cop returns, he says, “I’m sorry. I absolutely 100% tried. I had nothing to do with that.”

While some may say Reese was simply defending her man, I’m of the line of thinking that she was under the influence of liquid courage, and that her attempts at “helping” only exacerbated the situation. Her husband was in the wrong for drinking and driving, but in terms of having his wife’s back, he might have been even more in the wrong.

In all my years of dealing with the opposite sex, I’ve found one thing to be true: no matter how much I might disagree with the woman I’m with, sometimes it’s just better to pick your battles. That’s especially true when it comes to my wife. While Mrs. Rocque is far from perfect (just don’t tell her I said that), as her husband it’s not my job to highlight that. The role of any good partner is to support your better half in any way possible. 

That’s not to say that I’d give the Mrs. a pat on the back for doing something illegal. But when tempers are flaring, pointing out the negative isn’t what she wants or needs. I’ve learned that sometimes she doesn’t want to hear what’s right or rational in the heat of the moment; my wife would much rather feel supported and comforted. The facts of the matter can be discussed when cooler heads prevail.

So I totally feel everything Jim said to the officer after his wife was put in the backseat of the squad car, but what she needed in that moment—besides a sobering gallon of water—was emotional support. Reese was clearly pissed off and in the wrong, but a woman wants her man to have her back when no one else will. That’s not to say he should have screamed on the cop too, but Jimbo did kind of throw her under the bus when he was like, “I had nothing to do with that.”  

I’m not sure how the rest of the conversation played out between Jim and the officer, but I would have handled the situation slightly different. Instead of putting all the blame on the missus, I would have tried to divert attention back to my own err of judgment in driving under the influence, and tried my best to keep her out of jail. There’s no point in both of us spending the night in the slammer.

The lesson to learn here is simple. Every relationship—especially a marriage—is a partnership, one where both parties have to have each other’s back no matter what. This doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to your partner’s actions, because there should be freedom for each to provide a heavy dose of reality when needed. The important thing is to know when and where is the right time to deliver that info. And when your partner’s pissed about being arrested definitely isn’t one of those moments.

Do you believe it’s more important for your partner to support or check you when you’re wrong? Would you feel betrayed if your partner immediately agreed with someone who was disagreeing with you? Are you more open to criticism from your partner in the heat of the moment or after the dust has settled? Speak your piece…

Mr. and Mrs. Rocque are the couple formerly known as Anslem Samuel and Starrene Rhett, journalists who found love in between bylines. Follow the newlyweds’ musings of a marriage in progress here, on Twitter and via their joint blog.