When our feelings get hurt, all of us do something. We might close up and feel bad. We could get loud and yell. And some of us are good at cutting people down with rather pointed words.
All of these behaviors are designed to either stop the pain, whether we shut down or take someone’s head off. We are doing something because we feel terrible inside.
I was thinking about the concept that most people in relationships and in their lives hold some great vision of what their life would look and feel like if it was only better.
I see this play out in many of the counseling sessions I have with couples. A couple will come in and they tell me what is happening in their relationship and how the relationship isn’t working. They might also give me a window into what they have been waiting for, their ideal partnership, the one that runs perfectly.
It is common to be misunderstood in your relationship. I’m a couples counselor. The number one thing people want fixed, when they come to my therapy room, is “being misunderstood.” Only they don’t call it a misunderstanding: they call it “communication”.
So if we are not being understood by our partner, or we don’t know how to communicate with them, what do we do? Well there are a lot of things that I know about, and none of them come naturally to us at all. But we can learn them.
All of us dream of having the perfect relationship with the person we love. In fact, when we meet our perfect person we imagine that everything will always be wonderful and that we will have a great life with them.
But what happens when we are in the relationship for a while is that we might start to notice that not everything is perfect, and we actually are now in love with and committed to someone who we see has some, well, flaws.
As a counselor, I often meet people who love their partners, but who just wish their beloveds were a bit different. They tell me, “If only my partner were such and such, or did this and that, then everything would be better!”
I hear this in one form or another many, many times. I know when people come in they just want to feel better in their relationship. I also know if they knew what to do, they would do it. I understand that most people try everything they know before coming in for counseling, because everyone who has ever been in a relationship believes that they can fix their own problems. Who needs someone from the outside to weigh in?
In most relationships people have good intentions. They often think of their partners and try and do things that would please them. This is common. But in some relationships, the couple doesn’t talk to each other about what they like and therefore there could be a lot of misunderstanding.
I witnessed this recently with a couple I met. They have great intentions and actions designed for the one they love, but there is no discussion about these good thoughts and actions and whether they are what the other person wants. Each person just stays inside their own mind and keeps doing what they have always been doing and they don’t get what they really want which is understanding from the other person.
Letting go of pain in relationships isn’t easy.
It’s hard to let go when we get our feelings hurt, especially if it’s our partner doing the wounding. It is not uncommon for many of us to get our feelings hurt and not be able to talk about it. Sometimes the pain and discomfort can even make someone stop talking for days.
This is serious, especially for the person who feels the hurt. He or she is suffering. And it feels terrible. Many couples have one or more people who have this pattern and it’s just painful for both.
We sometimes meet people who are very uncomfortable with their life. Something is going wrong, and they are frustrated and unhappy. As a counselor, this is particularly hard when I encounter a couple and one person just wishes that the situation were different.
This is very human and very common. When most of us don’t like something, we do things to change what we are experiencing. This is a habit most of us have just by growing up and taking care of our lives.
But when there is no way to change a situation, what do you do? It’s like trying to move a brick wall. How hard is that? Impossible.
Most of us if we are in a relationship often feel that our partner does things that hurt us. I know I have been in this position too many times to count. But I know in my heart of hearts that my partner loves me. I mean he really loves me.
And I bet that in your tender moments, if you look at your partner, you will tell yourself the same thing: “My partner loves me too.”
But when we get our feelings hurt, we forget that we are loved and instead feel unwanted. When we get upset, we put a protective layer around our heart and maybe lash out or pull our feelings inside ourselves and feel terrible. We try to defend ourselves when we get hurt. It’s only natural.
Sometimes in relationships we find ourselves in certain patterns. Let’s say you are very aware of what is not working well in the relationship and you let your partner know when something isn’t right. Now add to this how your partner doesn’t even respond or just seems to not be listening no matter how hard and forceful you are telling them.
This is unfortunately common, and it often happens with men and women. Women are sometimes better at describing what is making them uncomfortable. Maybe we learned this from our verbal mothers. Men on the other hand are not as skilled, maybe because they learned from dads who didn’t say much.
Whatever contributed to how we grew up, we still carry patterns from our youth. When those patterns conflict with our partner’s, we have problems. Let’s look at a couple I know.