Q: Why is it so hard for my partner to understand me? I think I’m pretty good at communicating, but I just can’t seem to get through to him. He thinks I’m too emotional or I’m just making a big deal out of nothing, and that makes me even more upset. How do I get through to him?
Q: Why is my partner always upset at me? I can’t seem to do anything right. I know a lot of other husbands out there who are really lousy and I know I’m not like that. But nothing ever seems to be good enough. I don’t know what else to do.
A: I think I can safely say that every couple has (at one time or perhaps many times) experienced the aggravating pattern that is the essence of these two questions. One partner makes a significant claim usually involving words like “always,” “never,” or “anything” and “everything.” Pretty soon, we’re rehashing memories from five years ago that we said we had put behind us. And then the pattern becomes even more frustrating when we try to assert who is “right” and who just has it “wrong.”
Let me spoil the ending for you: the longer that pattern continues, the farther each partner moves from one another.
Because (another spoiler): both partners are “right.”
I believe couples find themselves stuck in these awful patterns because both partners have incredibly valid, important and meaningful things that the other person needs to hear, but the way we go about sharing these messages produces the exact opposite of what we were hoping.
Instead of your partner understanding what you are trying to convey, he/she actually pulls away more and shuts down faster.
Rather than hearing affirmation and gratitude from your partner, you find that he/she actually becomes more irritated and upset.
(Spoiler alert): Both partners are "right."
In the midst of these patterns, we are confused beyond words.
If we step out of the pattern and take a more objective look at what’s going on, we can find that our relationship makes more sense than we ever thought it could.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to take a step back together to help you see your relationship from an entirely new perspective.
And (final spoiler) we’ll discover how to stop this pattern from taking over your relationship.
More to come,