Most of my clients seeking help for their relationships (romantic relationships usually), say they need to work on communication. In my post "Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad...Words”, I spoke about some common issues with human language and how we use our words. Sometimes, even when we use our words well and speak clearly, we never know how or if, the other person is going to "read into" or misunderstand/misinterpret what we just said to them. Have you ever had a friend or loved one suddenly get really sad or mad about something you said, that in your mind, wasn't a big deal? We just never know how another person is going to receive what we say, because we don't know their history or mind set at every point in time. Maybe they are in a bad mood or sensitive to a particular subject. When conflict comes up, and things have gone sideways in our relationships, we tend to stick to facts, the issues and even on how to fix the situation. We get defensive, want to be right, to justify what was said, and sometimes we get mean and nasty, without thinking or caring about how the other person is feeling.
Who knows, maybe you are right, but does it make you happy? All the arguing to be right, what does it do to your relationship? I bet probably nothing good. If you argue without truly trying to experience the other persons feelings and without a curiosity about their point of view, then you are being defensive and selfish.
So, what is that one thing that can make or break a marriage? Feelings. So simple to understand, but unless you know how, they can be very difficult to deal with.
Think about it, as humans we don't like to experience negative feelings. We do our best to avoid and distract ourselves from them. We only want the good feelings. It is no surprise that in a relationship we might ignore or mishandle our partner’s negative feelings. We simply don't want to, or don't know how to deal with them, especially if we haven't figured out how to manage our own.
More on that next time.
David Linares, LMHC