Often when people get their feelings hurt they take what happened to them and re-run it through their brain again and again. Sometimes we can see that we should have said something different, and sometimes we just get madder and madder.
This situation happens in all our relationships, especially with the people we are really close to. I know that when I used to get mad at my partner I would just “stew” over what happened. It was as if I was marinating in the juices of what was done to me.
The more I sat in the stew the madder I got. You see how this works? We get our feelings hurt, something normal that happens in relationships, and then we run it through our minds over and over and over.
Criticism in relationships is incredibly common. Wonder why? All of us in a relationship like things the way we like them. Including how our partners act. We like them not to embarrass us and we like them to talk to us pleasantly. As humans we prefer things that please us. This is entirely normal.
But as someone who is sensitive to criticism, I know how terrible it feels when someone points out what you do not do well. It hurts some of us to our core. We can’t help it, that’s just the way some of us are wired.
I was talking to a potential client for couples counseling when she asked me if I would be giving her a prescription to follow in order to get better.
I was stunned for a moment and I think in all my years of counseling I have never been asked this. But I do know there is absolutely no way to understand a couple without meeting them, and I don’t have any idea what would be helpful for them, because there is no one size fits all plan for couples.
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.
All of us in this world have basic kindness, compassion and insight. These are human traits that we all have inside of us. Sometimes, though, when there is a fight between partners, we forget our goodness and make our mates the enemies or tell ourselves we are at fault.
This always creates hardship in a relationship between two people. We all couple with the one we love so we can have a good life. We are always drawn to the person who makes us feel alive and at home in a good way.
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.
When you get into misunderstandings or disagreements with your mate, what do you do? All of us have a reaction, and that is normal. People will not always understand each other even if they love each other dearly. And when the misunderstandings occur, most of us get our feelings hurt.
Sometimes those hurt feelings cause us to either pull our hurt feelings inside ourselves and say nothing. Other times, we do the opposite and lash out at those who hurt our feelings. This combination of systems plays out often in relationships.
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.
Resentment in relationships is all too familiar to us. It’s when our anger towards someone gets so hard it turns into a wall of everything we don’t like about that person. That’s what we normally refer to as “resentment.”
We treat resentment like it is the most important thing we can feel. We hold on to it so tightly that we hope the one we are using it against can feel it too. Resentment is like a cold brick wall. It’s so strong and solid, the person it’s directed towards would have to be dead not to feel it.
That’s what resentment feels like. We notice it. We feel it. But what underlies it is even more interesting to me. I read this recently: resentment in relationships stems from self-pity.