>Your apology is crap…

You apologize with ‘I’m so sorry, I will never do that again,’ – but a more accurate statement would probably go something like, ‘I really am sorry – I hate that I keep doing these things. But until I figure out what’s happening with me, I probably will keep on hurting you like this…‘ Admittedly, with the first statement, you’re more likely to get a good reaction… until it happens again. Which it will. Unless you do something about it, from the inside.

The truth is, you really do wish you knew how to feel better about your relationship, but you don’t know where to start – it makes sense that you’d feel hopeless sometimes. I have good news – understanding this IS a first step! Woo-hoo! Maybe therapy can help you to understand your underlying issues a bit better – maybe you already have a handle on them? What is it that gets triggered by your partner’s behavior?

Try this fill-in the blank exercise: (to your partner)    ‘When you _(partner’s behavior)_, I feel _(your feeling)_, and it reminds me of _(something in your history)_, so I _(your behavior)__.

Getting a sense of that feeling is another step. Understanding those feelings and getting a handle on them are other steps. Changing your behavior is another step. You’ve done this before, in some form, if you’ve ever had to overcome feelings in order to get something done; (like public speaking). Sometimes therapy helps get a better understanding, or handle, on your feelings; but good friends and close family can be helpful too. Call one of them up – say something like, ‘I’m really struggling with this, and I need you to be honest with me, not to make me feel better,’ then shut up and listen. Don’t argue – take notes if you have to , to stay focused on what they’re saying, rather than formulating your rebuttal.

The problem is not with your strength, or willpower, or whatever; it’s that you confuse goals with the steps it takes to get there. Coming into therapy, folks say things like, ‘I just want to have a conversation without one of us walking out completely frustrated‘ or ‘I want us to feel/show the love‘. Although it’s been a long time, (if ever) since they’ve done those things, they think that these are tasks, rather than goals to work toward. Anyone who has gritted their teeth and responded with some version of ‘Yes dear, you’re right’, but seethed underneath, can understand what I’m talking about. If it were as easy as being nice, everyone would do it, and we’d all be happy in our relationships. So it takes some work, but you can do it – isn’t your happiness worthy of the work it takes to really, really get there?!







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