Tess and Luke have displayed some worrying behaviour onscreen. Picture: Channel 9
Tess and Luke have displayed some worrying behaviour onscreen. Picture: Channel 9

Block scene that is ‘never, ever OK’

COMMENT

WHEN you watch as much reality TV as I do, you start becoming numb to crap people doing crap things.

Bronson calling Ines a c-word on Married At First Sight? Whatever. Monique calling Matt the c-word on The Bachelor? They're just words. Alex Nation (who must always be written with both her first and last name - I don't know why) and Richie's argument over "something massive that no woman should go through" on Bachelor In Paradise? Tasteless. But I get it.

Being outrageous is literally the only way you can earn a living now and you gotta pay the bills. But even I have a line, and call me old fashioned but that line is using language that amounts to a threat of physical violence.

Last night on The Block, the couple who ticks every one of psychologist John Gottman's four relationship breakdown prediction boxes, Tess and Luke, overstepped that line.

To be more specific, 28-year-old Tess overstepped it. "F**k you're a d**khead," she snapped at her husband of less than a year after a dispute over paint.

"Honestly I could knock you out square in the face and punch you."

Tess, I know you think you were joking. I know you think you were just frustrated. I know you believe you'd never physically hurt your husband.

But violent threats, especially in a domestic partnership, are never, ever OK.

Tess and Luke seemed to realise they hadn't covered themselves in glory. Picture: Channel 9
Tess and Luke seemed to realise they hadn't covered themselves in glory. Picture: Channel 9

It's abuse. And according to Relationships Australia, it's unacceptable abuse and something that should be taken very seriously.

Poor Luke, 30, came back with a line so feeble you knew that this was a man who is careful with any line of defence in case he inflames her further.

"Your pink vest looks ugly," he ventures timidly.

And then most heartbreaking of all, we cut to the newlywed couple on the couch reflecting on their altercation.

"Yeah, I was a little bit stressed that day," admits Luke. You read that right. The guy whose wife threatened to knock him out was the one taking the blame.

 

You don't have to be John Gottman or any other psychologist to realise that this goes beyond an ordinary argument, even in a situation as incontestably stressful as renovating a gigantic terrace with little experience on national TV.

Other couples have their moments of anger towards each other.

Real estate agent Jesse and partner Mel are constantly sniping at each other in more or less equal measures.

Perth mum El'ise is reduced to tears after a particularly gruelling day, and husband Matt watched his wife cry to camera without so much as a consoling arm around her shoulders.

Not great. Not relationship goals. But not abusive.

Support was thin on the ground for Matt and El’ise. Picture: Channel 9
Support was thin on the ground for Matt and El’ise. Picture: Channel 9

It's not immediately clear what Channel 9 should have done about Tess. It's a renovating show. Shaynna Blaze and Scott Cam are there to worry about vases and varnishes, not verbally abusive partnerships.

Which means it's up to the rest of us to call it out so we can learn from it, look for it in our own lives and vow to do better.

We live in a world where we're constantly asking men to discard the uglier side of hyper-masculinity - which includes but is not limited to violence, threats of violence, and belittling or demeaning words and actions.

We can't then expect it to be OK for women to take up the mantle.

Alex Carlton is a freelance writer. Continue the conversation @Alex_Carlton


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