Weaponized Incompetence

Weaponized Incompetence

April 01 2024 TalktoAngel 0 comments 69 Views

After an exhausting working day, you want to know if your spouse can take a few items from the store. You're tired, however, you're able to recall the last time your spouse went for a shopping trip, they didn't even get half of the items because they were unable to locate some of the things, and you had to return to pick up the rest of the items they forgot. After you've returned to your home, you end up cooking dinner, since they have confessed that they are not a great cook. You then finish the evening by clearing the kitchen since your spouse says they're not the best when it comes to loading the dishwasher and it's best if you begin the process.

Doing these chores at home occasionally isn't too big of a deal. Maybe your partner was in a mood of slumber the evening before or had lots going on at work, which took time off of household chores. It's fair. However, if they're consistently doing this, their isolated actions could be an act of weaponized incompetence.

What exactly is weaponized incompetence?

Weaponized incompetence is the behaviour of one partner where they pretend to be incompetent at tasks that are easy to take out while sharing responsibilities. It could be as simple as not being able to step up to appointments for children since they claim they don't recall the names of their doctor's assistant, or not bathing their pet since they do not know how to clean them afterward or not helping in the planning of a party because they aren't sure they're good in the area of details. Whatever the reason the message is in a loud and clear way and loud: I don't want you to do this, but you don't.

Incompetence that is weaponized occurs when your partner tries to avoid performing unpleasant tasks by pretending to not be capable of the job, or by doing it poorly or being incompetent. This means you have to take on the task and take over the burden. In time, this can result in a significant amount of mental burden and stress that can cause tension and anxiety. The reason why it's used is that one partner puts the burden on the other person to complete the task that they are supposed to finish to be able to do it again in the future.

These actions create a flawed relationship by attempting to appear to be mediocre and incompetent. The partner exposes their lack of sincerity in their efforts to improve or perform better. In turn, the other partner feels resentment as they feel unappreciated and undervalued.

Signs of weaponized incompetence in the relationship:

  • The following phrases are heard most often.

If you're the responsible one, you may be making conditioned responses such as "Don't worry, I'll just do it myself" or "It's fine, never mind". If you're experiencing weaponized incompetence from your partner, you must be familiar with phrases such as:

"I am not good at doing that."

"Remember last time how bad it was when I did it?"

"You're better at it than me."

"I'm really busy right now; could you do it instead?"

  • You feel as if you're being controlled.

Relations are about the balance of giving and taking. Normally, your spouse may not be able to perform things. The distinction between that and weaponized incompetence lies in the fact that it is an element of a manipulative system that is carried out to maintain an inequitable and unbalanced power structure. 

  • You feel you've been cheated.

When the other person exaggerates their inability to accomplish something, they subconsciously convey to the other partner that their time and effort are worth more than yours. Your partnership's role shifts to include serving as both the partner and the housekeeper, without any contribution from your partner or a proper appreciation for your effort.

  • You feel lonely in the relationship.

If your car has a problem or you need to plan the birthday celebration of your family member, make a note of whether you'll be asking your partner for assistance. It's not uncommon for unexpected situations to arise every day, and it is normal to expect your partner to be there whenever you require them. If you're acting by yourself at the time, it's a sign that there's an unjust norm in your relationship.

  • Frustration becomes a common emotion.

The constant use of weaponized incompetence leads to discontent, anger, and eventually frustration, stress, and anxiety. In letting go of the obligation, the purposeful incompetent individual is deliberately choosing to cause harm to their loved ones. If your partner is pretending to not know how to do something to get out of responsibilities, which for some, can be seen as similar to lying and cheating. This in turn could lead to feeling frustrated and disappointed.

How can you deal with weaponized incompetence?

The way to manage such a situation is to hold both parties accountable and to take actionable transformation with the help of a trusted person or a marriage counsellor. Clear and open communication as well as establishing healthy boundaries are essential to confronting and overcoming incompetence that is weaponized within a relationship. The delegation process and the setting of specific and agreed-upon rules ensure that both parties have the responsibility of completing certain tasks and that they share some responsibilities. An entire guide on working more evenly in the household can assist you in shaping the way you handle this. Don't feel discouraged if you're not making significant progress initially. It will require several conversations and constant communication to remove this tension in the relationship.

The possibility that your partner has self-deprecating tendencies that make them believe they aren't capable of completing the task without help. If this is the case and you're willing to work with them, seek help from an expert marriage or couple counsellor to initiate the basic discussion and empower them to contribute equally by developing insight through marriage counselling sessions. 

To enhance the quality of your relationship, better communication is the key to constructively dividing household chores. Being able to manage conflict with the best marriage counsellor in a thoughtful manner is an opportunity to improve the relationship further and develop.

Contribution by: Dr (Prof) R K SuriBest Clinical Psychologist & Life Coach & Mr. Utkarsh YadavCounselling Psychologist



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