When I write this title a part of me winces. It’s the part of me that writes the word “toxic”. This word actually means poisonous, harmful, dangerous, and deadly. So I think it’s only natural to feel this revulsion with the word. And yet, I have heard many people talk about their relationships and label them as “toxic”.
We are all familiar with feeling uncomfortable in our relationships or marriages. I know this happens because all of us are unique and the one we are with may not get us every second and sometimes when they don’t understand us we get our feelings hurt. This is just how relationships go.
All of us who are in a relationship have many things in common. First off, we all probably want it to work. We most likely want to live peacefully with the person we love. Another thing we probably all agree on is that we don’t want to fight. We just want to get along and experience good feelings with each other.
Yes, I believe we can all agree on what we want. Now here’s what we don’t want. We don’t want to get our feelings hurt. We don’t want to get mad at our mate. We don’t want to feel bad about ourselves or work too hard for our partner. I bet we can all agree on what we don’t want too.
As a counselor I often intervene with couples when they start to argue about who said what and who remembers what because that conversation can sometimes turn into a fight. I usually go into some sort of education to help them understand that they each have different brains, life experiences and ways of processing how information is received and stored.
This conversation helps reduce some of the tension and then we can continue our work in the session. But recently I fell victim to feeling so violated because my husband did not remember something I had told him three times!
When you read the title you might say to yourself, “I don’t do that, I don’t withhold affection or love from my person.” The truth, though, is we all do it. Every one of us who is in a relationship does it. That’s because that’s how humans act when they get their feelings hurt. We don’t love our other when we are suffering. That’s a fact.
Think about it. You and your mate are having a disagreement. You feel they did something to you. They feel you did something to them. You are both mad at the other. Are you withholding love from your person then? Of course you are. We ALL do this.
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.
Most of us are pretty easy going. We have lives that we manage. We might go to work or school and we make out there OK too. So why is it that when we have a disagreement with our partner, the one we love the most, we see RED and want to take their head off?
I know when I feel misunderstood or dismissed by my husband it is a terrible pain. It feels as if he is doing it on purpose. I know logically that is not true. He loves me and does not want to see me upset. In fact, I bet if he knew every pitfall he was about to step into that would make me unhappy, he’d get out a roadmap and avoid them. He doesn’t want to make me upset. I believe your partner feels the same way.
I was thinking about a couple I have the opportunity to help. They love something they created at one time. They both want to get back to feeling what they used to feel from the other person. They are desperate to feel this again. But it’s been a long time and now they are both in pain.
Pain can turn us into bitter creatures. It makes us get mad at the person we love, or freeze them out because they have hurt us. Pain turns us into the worst versions of what we once were; loving people.
I worked with a couple recently. The man was very angry at his wife. The man wanted his wife to end a work situation that he resented. He resented this work situation very much and considered this to be the problem, the only problem in the marriage.
The marriage was suffering. The wife was unhappy. The husband was unhappy. He believed that if she left her work situation the marriage and their happiness level would improve. The wife however, LOVED her work and derived a lot of joy from it.
She felt empowered by it and carried a great sense of pride over what she had accomplished. These feelings were discounted by the husband as proof that he had been left. His anger prevented him from feeling anything except her not valuing him.
Every one of us does something when we are angry. All of us have some kind of behavior that accompanies feelings of being wronged. It’s just how humans are wired.
I was thinking about this after reading a story about a married couple. They love each other. He is deaf and nearly blind. They communicate through sign language where the husband places his hands on the wife’s. That’s how they talk. It was a beautiful story. It told how they fell in love, through communicating with holding each others hands.
The story gave rich details about their lives. It even mentioned something everyone goes through, which some people did not expect. This couple gets mad at each other too. Only when the feelings are big, they still have to connect their hands in order to tell each other what is wrong…
Most of us can relate to feeling some sort of irritation with our mate. I know we try and love them, but we all know we don’t love everything they do. In fact we might even become annoyed or irritated by some of their behaviors.
Some of us even get so frustrated when this happens that we can’t deal with those behaviors anymore so we leave the relationship and look for another partner, less annoying and irritating. But this article is about you staying in the relationship you are in and learning how to deal with your discomfort.