You're Missing the Point!
Every person wants to be heard; to be seen and validated. But when we're met with criticism or being dismissed it's like the 2nd round bell at a boxing match. We go in for the kill and tumble them with verbal jabs. When the dust settles, we mentally review footage and feelings of rejection and intense anger are quickly replaced with feelings of remorse and shame. Perhaps this sounds like you and your significant other? How can two people who claim to love each other be so destructive and cross the line like that? No one should have to put up with this, right?
It's so common for couples who come to see me for therapy ask this very same question; how do I communicate with my spouse? Why do I get so angry when we argue? We all have a fight or flight response to any perceived threat (rejection) so when hear criticism coming from our partner and we fight back or we run away. If we take a take a minute to think we may remember the bigger picture of the relationship and take a different course.
The issue is not to prevent arguments from happening. Even in the most secure marriages, arguments happen. It's about arguing effectively as to not make things worse.
Something to consider is how do you handle conflict on your own? Are you one to shy away from conflict altogether. Outside of your relationship, do you tend to feel like others are personally attacking you when conflict arises? Perhaps you already struggle with anger and rejection? These things are magnified when in a relationship conflict. Thus its important to regulate your own anger before approaching conflict with your partner. Recognize your own triggers and come up with a plan when they come up.
Rather than attacking your significant other, you're responding to the issue at hand. Be specific. Remember that how you introduce a question or issue is just as important as the answer. Be as specific as possible and use more "I statements" to take ownership of your part of the issue as well as explicitly requesting what you'd like to be done about it. Oftentimes in the heat of the moment we use general language that is received like blanket statement blaming which really revs up the tension. "You never listen." "I feel left out when you talk over me." Which are you more likely to understand?
At the same time, be the active listener you want your partner to be. If you want to feel like your voice is important make sure you're returning the favor as well. Validation, we all want it but if we don't confirm what we heard we're bound to repeat the same mistakes. Above all else, practice mindfully.
If you're interested in learning more on how to improve the quality of your marriage with your spouse, feel free to contact NMD Wellness Counseling to set up an appointment today.