Oftentimes when people are in a relationship and we get our feelings hurt we want, and need our partner to hear us, understand us and empathize.
You Can Both Feel Upset and Want Soothing
It’s only natural that we want to be soothed when we get upset. This is what happens when we hold a baby or a puppy, they need to be held when hurt and we oblige.
But sometimes in a relationship two people get hurt. First one has a wound and then tells the other person, but says things in a way that the other person now gets hurt. Two people are now hurt and both are in their pain.
When this happens both people try to get their needs met, but when two people are in need of being listened to and both are trying to get listened to at the same time, then it becomes a standoff and no one gets healed.
We Get Angry When We Don’t Feel Listened To
I see this sometimes in the counseling room. Two really nice people are really mad at the other because of what they said or did and it keeps coming up in the session. No one gives anyone an inch. There are just swirls of “You said this and did this.” The other might not agree and accuse their partner of making stuff up.
Both are in need of being understood by the other, but there is no room for one to lay down their hurt and hear their mate. When there is a situation like this, it is really a tragedy. This is a real human tragedy.
Clearly both have not learned to listen. And that is a skill that belongs in all relationships. If we grow up independent then we are focused on making sure that our needs are taken care of. If two people grow up this way, they will battle over who gets helped first.
It is a real sadness to witness this. Two people who just want to be heard. This is a very hard thing to teach a couple. Both are in such need to be helped, they have very little reserve to understand the dynamics of what is actually happening and to take a step back.
Learn How to Make Room for Your Partner
I know when I met my husband-to-be I too was very independent. I didn’t have any room for another person’s feelings. I just thought of my own. Not until we went to counseling, (before I was a counselor) did I even know that my guy had thoughts in his head about us.
I knew he was smart and all that, but to have his own feelings about our relationship, well I learned all that in counseling. And that was a big “Aha!” moment for me.
Wow, he is his own person. I have to make room for him. And that got me thinking about him in a different way. It matters what I think and feel. It also matters what he thinks and feels. How can I make room for him?
This is what I had to learn. And this is the answer to two people trying to get their needs met at the same time. Learn to be a good listener. Help your partner. I promise, if they see you do it for them, they will learn to do it for you.
And isn’t that what we really want? I know it is for me, to be understood and listened to and helped. Now that’s everything.
Ready to Move On from Anger?
Read a Book About Relationships
Learn how to improve communication in your relationship, by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It might just help both of you feel more connected, aligned, and loved. Give it a read.
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Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.