We all get wounded by the people we love. This is part of being human. The hard part though, when we are in a relationship, is putting the pain between you and your partner.
And we do this almost instinctively. We get our feelings hurt and boom the wall comes up or we tell them incredibly strongly how much they hurt us.
This pattern is pervasive with couples. I see it in my therapy practice. I live it in my own life. When I am hurt I am unable to ask for what I need. My instincts are to fight. I don’t raise my fists or anything, but my insides look for someone to blame. I usually become angry on the inside after I feel hurt and I express it, sometimes loudly.
We all know what it feels like to feel love. We are also keenly aware of what is feels like when we don’t feel it. So if we know what it feels like, can we describe what it looks like? This is such a difficult question, and it’s so hard for many couples to really describe what love is. So let’s give it a go.
As I think about this, I wonder if it might be easier to describe what it is NOT. I was talking to a client recently and she was telling me how she loves her man very much. When he asks for something she goes out of her way to give it to him. For the client, this is an action of love.
Another client was telling me about a vacation where her husband was trying to make his two daughters happy by buying them everything they wanted. And they were still not happy. So I think it’s OK to look at what love isn’t in these two examples.
Doing things for your mate with the expectation that they will be happy is not love.
There are lots of reasons to get mad at the people we love. It just seems to happen, sometimes right out of the blue. We don’t plan on getting angry, but as we all know, anger can just come out of nowhere and when it does—well, watch out. Anger is not very pretty.
I know I have been working on decreasing my anger for a long time. It’s not that anger is bad. It’s just that when we say harsh things, yell, or swear at someone we love… Well, there could be a lot of hurt feelings and a lot of damage. I just got tired of cleaning up the mess I made when I got angry.
Some of us just do a lot in our relationships. We listen to what our partner wants. We think about their needs and we do what we can to make them feel taken care of and happy. Many of us do this just automatically because we are kind, caring people. And so, it feels terrible when it appears “my husband still isn’t satisfied” or “my wife is never happy.”
But how many of us just get exhausted doing and doing everything we can and our partner is still unhappy? They are still not satisfied with all our help. And besides not having our partner happy, we are now exhausted because we have run out of gas.
It’s funny to think of not being good at “living” life. All of us, as humans, pride ourselves at being effective. Every one of us does things to the best of our ability. And yet, many relationships are not satisfying to the people in them. And many people wonder why being in a relationship is so hard.
Well, there are good reasons for relationship challenges. For starters, where did you learn how to be in a relationship? Maybe you saw some movies or watched other people. Maybe you saw examples of what not to do and vowed to do something different. Or perhaps you had examples that you thought were good but they are not proving to work in your current relationship.