Communicating feelings in a relationship can be hard. Clients sometimes ask, “I tell him how I feel! Why doesn’t it work?” Let’s look at some differences in how we communicate and the best way we can reach each other.
Some of us are very good at speaking what is happening to us when our feelings get hurt. I know I grew up that way, always saying what I needed to say and hoping someone would listen and help.
This is probably a lifelong habit that many of us are very used to. But some of us in this world are not talkers. Maybe you are partnered with one. I am. He is great at a lot of things, but he doesn’t need to talk about what is happening to his insides. I do.
I had an interesting session recently. I had been working with this couple. I felt we had made progress, but the last session I wondered if we had. They were very mad or disappointed or cut off from the each other. But these feelings didn’t prevent them from telling the other what they felt.
It went back and forth and I ended up putting my head in my hands and wondering aloud if I was helping them at all. That’s when one of them got up and said, “It’s not helping, and I am going to leave.”
All of us at one time or another will feel as if we are the only person in our relationship. This is a feeling that many of us have and it is very common. But it doesn’t feel good even though lots of us feel it.
And it can come upon us in a flash. We are just humming along in our relationship and then wham! We are struck with thinking and wondering if our partner even cares for us. We might have had a disagreement and feel all alone and don’t know how to get back to the connection.
Every one of us has a choice on how we respond to life. Yes, we are not automatic, unthinking machines that just react without thinking, although most of us are automatic human machines sometimes in our life.
Usually these are the times when we create the most difficulty for our relationship, when we respond to criticism, or harsh words or something unkind without thinking.
All of us expect things to go right in our lives. This is definitely the way humans are wired. We play out our expectations almost minute by minute. We select the food we want to eat and expect it to taste the way we remember. If it doesn’t then we might get upset or disappointed.
Well, we play out this system of expecting things in our relationships too. We simply expect to be happy with the person we love. Isn’t that the way the fairy tail ends? Living happily ever after? Only real life is not a fairy tale, and what we expect is not always what we get.
Letting go of resentment in marriage and other relationships is a complicated process. It is not like having a new thought which magically negates the resentment. No, it takes understanding of what is going on, and it takes work to ease out of it.
And all of us have felt or used resentment at some time or another. And that’s because resentment can happen to us so easily. When we get our feelings hurt, especially by the person we love, we get really wounded.
If we are not able to let our pain out and get healed, well then we put a wall around our heart and protect it so we won’t get hurt again. This starts out to be just a slight cover over the pain, but if we continue to get hurt without healing then we build up a thick concrete wall between our heart and the one we love.
As humans it is very common to want something and then pursue it. We do this all the time. We are exceptional at setting goals and moving our lives toward them. This is how many of us are wired.
Even in relationships. But that can bring about its own set of challenges. I have worked with many couples who have been in a situation where one or both will push their mate to get what they want. And unfortunately, it doesn’t work.
A lot of us in relationships have a partner who speaks a lot less than we do. I know this describes mine. I am a talker. I verbalize what I think and like to have conversations with my beloved.
But I also know him very well and for him, his conversations and words are about one third of the conversations and words I speak. Sometimes I take a long time to describe something and he won’t have a response.
When we are criticized by the person we love it feels like we’ve been stung. It is unforgiving and painful. Criticism from our partner can even feel like judgment, like we have done something wrong, and like we are not good enough.
So, feeling judged in a relationship is quite common. We really love our partners, but there are things about them we don’t like and we want those things to change. So, a lot of us just tell our partners what we don’t like. And when we do this, we are criticizing them.
We are probably just telling them about a behavior or an action or a misstatement or something small, but when hearing it from a mate it can feel as if it is everything. We might even start to believe that our partner doesn’t even like us, and that is the farthest thing from the truth.
Feeling alone in a relationship is quite common. Even though you are sharing your life with another person, sometimes we can be so lost in our own thoughts that we feel all by ourselves.
The funny thing is that your partner is probably right there and yet you still feel alone. This happens to a lot of couples. And when we feel alone in our relationship, more things start to happen. We might even get mad at our mate.
We might say to them, “I just don’t feel connected like I used to,” or “You never talk to me,” and “You’d rather be with your friends than be with me.”
Each one of these phrases tell the partner something. It first signals is that you are mad at them. But the real point I think you are trying to make is that you love them and want to feel more love.