All of us in relationships come into our union with the skills we learned growing up. Many of us might have come from homes where the problems never got solved. Some of us might even be new to even thinking about saying, “I am sorry.”
That’s how I grew up. My family was full of love and deep connections, but the display of those emotions was buried under a lot of anger and disappointment. When someone drank the milk and another family member wanted some, that person would yell, “Who drank the milk?” If someone answered, then there would be an argument about why they drank all the milk.
A lot of us in relationships try and get what we want to make ourselves feel comfortable. Sometimes our mates do things that make us uncomfortable and then we tell them what we like and don’t like. This is very common.
But when we get into difficulty with our partner and they don’t do what we like, we might fall into a pattern of telling that they are lazy, stupid, mean, unkind and more. We might start to label them. And this labeling can have a devastating effect.
Many of us get mad when our feelings get hurt. This is a very common human feature. A lot of us are wired to express our pain by getting upset, and that’s what we do.
But when we are in a relationship, the anger and the upset can be a problem for our mate. They might take it personally or they might try and fix us, but whatever they try to do to help us usually doesn’t work.
All of us get mad at our mates. Most couples wonder whether it’s normal in relationships. It is. But so many people think that if they fall in love with someone, they will always feel that wonderful feeling and it will never change.
I call this problem the “happy ever after” condition. Somewhere in all of us, there is this idea that when we meet our person, we will be happy forever more.
All of us in relationships have thought about breaking up with our partner at some time or another. In fact maybe many of us have done it at least once. It is very common for couples to feel so hurt and misunderstood that they have to end things in order to feel better.
This is really human nature. When we are upset, most of us close up and can’t really communicate about what happened to us. And in some cases people are in such pain that the only way they can see their way through to feeling better is to cut off the offender so that can have some relief.
We all do some sort of this. Some of us yell because we are upset when we are hurt. Some just hold their feelings inside and wait for everything to calm down before trying to communicate again.
And there are those who are in such distress that their only recourse is to end things in the moment with finality. “I can’t do this anymore. I am done.” There were some words like this and maybe some curse words too.
I think it comes as a surprise to most of us that the person we love usually is the one who causes us the most pain and suffering. Many of us imagine living happily ever after with the one we fall in love with.
We have these dreams of everything just being beautiful and romantic and perfect. And maybe it is for a while. But somewhere along the line things start to change and that perfect feeling of everything being just wonderful starts to diminish.
All of us get mad over things. Some of us keep our mad inside our bodies and don’t say anything even when we get upset. The rest of us just release the anger—usually on others.
Being the angry one and sharing it is the way I am wired. I have been getting mad since I was a toddler. I wish I had a different experience of having this feeling, but I do not. I grew up with this feeling and I learned also that yelling, stomping my feet, or just being ornery created attention for me, and that was better than being left alone. I guess you could say I learned to get taken care of when I got angry.
People frequently ask me about how to stop an argument. When they do, I’d love to give them a fool-proof way to get it done. I wish it were as simple as saying one or two words, instantly turning two people amidst taking each other’s heads off into docile, compliant, happy people free to go about their business as if nothing happened.
Unfortunately, nothing short of physical distance stops an argument. I know this, because I have spent much of my early life arguing. I have never been able to stop arguing once I get started.