>The biggest mistakes…

The marriage proposal from last week’s post got a great response from everyone who saw it. With all due respect to the groom’s amazing effort, if the people featured are even half as supportive as they seem, the bride and groom will always have others to share in their joy, and help them carry the weight of the tough times. That seems at least as valuable as the obvious connection between the happy couple.

Whether good or bad, the quality of our experience is directly affected by with whom we have to share it. Even our joy feels greater when we have someone to turn to and know that they feel it too.

So when our partner is standing right in front of us, but we can’t get a reaction, arguments often ensue because we need to poke (or shove) the other person into recognizing how strongly we feel about something. We often say hurtful or angry things in these moments. We cry, we rage, we scream; or maybe we shut down and get reallllly quiet – maybe both.

Regardless of our behavior on the outside, the underlying message tends to be the same:

I don’t feel like you know or understand that this is really important to me or that I’m really hurting.”

Typically, we mistake silence for strength; we mistake rage for power. But what’s really happening is that underneath, neither of us knows how to reach each other; and that’s a scary place to be. So we get protective when what we most need to do is show each other our pain. That’s the other deadly error; we mistake pain for weakness, so we have nowhere to go but to protective mode – that’s the yelling, criticizing or shut-down place. You see how the cycle continues, and eventually it can really feed itself.

Sometimes we’ve just gotten so used to using sarcasm or the silent treatment, that we need to learn together how to consciously support each other in building a healthier cycle of relating.  Other times, our history with each other has been so painful, we really need therapy to sort it out and get back on track with each other. If it feels painful with your partner, try talking about it. If it doesn’t feel safe to do that, then you likely would benefit from support. Where do you fall? What’s your thought?







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