One of the most challenging parts of being in a relationship. is what to do when partners misunderstand each other, because misunderstandings can often lead to hurt feelings.
I saw this situation play out recently as I worked with a couple during counseling. I first met the wife who told me about her husband, who she said she loved but who was always unhappy. She didn’t know what to do about it.
She even said he sometimes was mean–so mean she did not know how to handle his moods. I listened, but being a counselor I listen with therapeutic ears. I know that when people are unhappy and they are angry it is because something inside of them feels terrible.
When we consider our partner when we feel upset, we are staying in the relationship. When we sit in our own feelings because we have been hurt and stay mad or sad, we stay alone, even if we are in a relationship, we will feel alone.
This is one of the hardest things for couple to understand. Here’s what I often see when counseling a couple: both have been hurt and are distanced from their mate. Both feel that their partners should do something different to make them feel better.
I was walking the neighborhood recently with a friend and we passed by a car parked on the street. The windows were down so I could hear a young couple sitting in the front facing each other and having a discussion.
I heard a few words from the man. He was explaining something to the young woman about how his feelings were hurt. I could feel his earnestness, even after just a couple of moments. I also could tell that he was trying really hard to get her to understand him.
Can you notice how when you are in a bad mood your relationship suffers? This pretty much happens to all of us. I know it happens to me, plenty. I will feel depressed, or anxious or worried about something and then I am in some kind of mood and then no one feels good around me.
I also know that if I am in such a mood, I am usually unaware that I am in a mood in that moment. After the mood passes I can look back and see how my upset feelings really impacted the way I acted. This is good to do, notice yourself after you have had an upset.
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.
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 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.