Feeling unheard and misunderstood in a relationship leads to resentment, anger and emotional disconnection. Who is doing this in your relationship? Is it you, is it your spouse or are you both stuck in a destructive cycle of shutting each other out? Are you easy to talk to or do you become angry, defensive or stonewall when your spouse approaches you? Are you able to listen and consider messages from your spouse that you may not agree with or do you immediately turn to defending your own position? Do you always have to be “right”? People who have to defend, convince, yell and argue are often times exhausting to talk to. If you are recognizing yourself in these patterns, you may want to rethink your tactics as you are creating great harm in the relationship. When spouses are unable to communicate freely with one another, it creates distance and emotional blocks. Resentment starts building and you will find yourself stuck with the same unresolved issues that you did not want to discuss or hear. The specific issue or relational problem does not disappear because you choose to shut down the communication. It still lingers there festering and building. First off, ask yourself why you feel like you always have to be “right”. People have different perspective on things, so why is it that you have to try to prove that your perspective is right? When faced with a negative comment from your spouse, why is it so threatening to at least evaluate if the comment may be something for you to work on? It is not about proving who is right or wrong, it is about hearing each other and working together to find amicable solutions that nourishes the relationship.Manipulation tactics do not only include using anger outbursts and defensiveness. Other detrimental tactics are avoidance, finger pointing and patronizing. Excuses I hear are: “I didn’t like the choice of words that my spouse was using; I didn’t like the tone of voice my spouse was using; I didn’t like the timing of the conversation”. These are all manipulation tactics to turn the tables and avoid the topic that was presented. Instead the tables were turned and the “problem” is now HOW the conversation was started, not the real issue of WHAT the problem is. If you are automatically turning to anger outbursts, turning the tables or defensiveness you miss many opportunities to hear your spouse. There are times when a spouse will tell the other that they have attempted for years to improve the marriage, only to be shut down. At times this goes on until one person has had enough, feels empty and is ready to pack their bags. At this time, it may be too late to try to salvage the relationship. You have the opportunity to listen to your spouse today. If you continue to feel stuck, contact a licensed therapist to help you improve communication and rebuild the emotional intimacy your relationship.Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC, NCC, SRT, CCPS specializes in helping individuals and couples heal from infidelity, intimacy anorexia, intimacy deprivation and sexual addiction. Ingela Edwards Counseling serves the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Frisco, Carrollton, Lewisville, Dallas and Sherman area.
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