>It’s not me, it’s YOU!!!

Yup. Sometimes it actually is all about your partner. Sometimes it has nothing to do with you. But rather than just saying that, you respond to them with some version of ”Wow, that’s a really f***ed up thing to say, you big idiot!” …annnnnnnnnd now it actually is about you, too.

It goes like this  – Jeni* brings up the idea that she needs more ‘down’ time in her relationship with Jeff, and suggests that he reconnect with friends he hasn’t seen in a while. She tells him that she loves him immensely, but he’s just always… ya know… around… Completely bewildered, Jeff protests, ‘But… but… I know you HATE being at home alone!

There is one shining moment of silence as Jeni’s mouth drops open – just before she unleashes on him about how could he possibly say that…it’s completely untrue… he doesn’t know her at all… and how could they even THINK about getting married in two months, if THIS is how LITTLE he knows about her…

After diffusing the situation, we slow it down and learn a few things. First, Jeni actually feels refreshed when she has time alone, and expresses how much she enjoys solitude. With that information, Jeff recognizes that it is he who craves social contact, and even feels a little ‘down’ when he’s alone, including when Jeni wants to go off and read a book or something. As we go deeper, Jeff recognizes that as the only child to a single parent, he often felt obligated to spend time with his mother so that she wouldn’t feel lonely. Jeff carried that with him into his relationship with Jeni, and it was showing up in his statement about her not wanting to be home alone. It was never about Jeni, but until it was brought out and explored in therapy, he never knew what he was putting on her. And if they had continued with the argument about whether he really knew her, they still wouldn’t know!

Anais Nin said, “We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are

Next time your partner says or implies something about you that is WAY off, what would happen if you became curious, (instead of informing them about what an insensitive jerk they are)? It sounds like this: (calm tone) “Hm. what would make you say that?”

What do you think? Try it, see what happens. I’d love to hear about how it works.

*Names and identifying information are changed




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