Does it feel as if you and your partner can’t talk about something without things blowing up?
You might feel that you’re living with a ticking time bomb.
Things might be good one minute, but then the moment you raise a concern or ask for something you need, your partner’s personality changes.
They become defensive, angry, and maybe even vicious.
They’ll shut down, withdraw, or sulk.
Often, you wonder if this person even really loves you. They sure don’t seem to like you sometimes.
What is going on?
Are you doomed to live in a roller-coaster relationship? Is this person even right for you?
It’s killing you to live like this, and you don’t know what to do to even begin fixing things.
I’ve worked with couples for over 50 years, and many of them have come to me with the same problem:
“We can’t communicate!”
All too often, when a partner states, “We can’t communicate,” what he or she means is “I can’t get my partner to listen to me and understand things from my point of view.”
And underneath this is, “If my partner only understood things through my eyes, he or she would then change and do things my way.”
So what partners often mean when they say, “We can’t communicate,” is “I want to control my partner and he or she won’t listen.”
Think about the last time you tried to communicate with your partner. Now, be honest with yourself: why did you want to communicate?
Chances are, if you wanted to communicate about an interesting or funny situation that happened to you, or about your own learning and growth, with no agenda for your partner to change, your partner was more than willing to listen.
But, if you wanted to communicate about your feelings of unhappiness about something your partner did or was doing, he or she may not have been so receptive. Or, if you were being a victim and complaining about someone or a situation and wanting sympathy rather than real help, your partner might have tuned you out.
Too often, communicating your feelings is a way of making your partner responsible for your feelings.
He or she must change for you to feel okay or do something to take responsibility for your feelings. When this is the case, your partner might be less than enthusiastic about communicating, because his or her experience is that you are using your feelings as a form of blame and control. No one likes to be at the other end of that.
Let’s look at what happened between Marian and Mark.
Marian was concerned about whether there was enough money in their bank account to cover the check they had just written. She was rushing to get ready to leave for work, so she asked her husband, Mark, to call: a simple request that led to a major conflict. The initial interaction went like this:
Marian: Mark, would you call the bank today?
Mark: Get off my back.
Marian left for work feeling hurt and angry. When she came home, she and Mark were distant. In their session with me, they unraveled the conflict.
Mark’s experience of Marian’s energy when she requested that he call the bank was that she had a parental edge to her voice. He experienced it as a demand rather than a request and, not wanting to be controlled by Marian, went into immediate resistance.
Marian then felt rejected by his resistance and told herself that Mark didn’t love her, which led to her feeling hurt and angry.
On the surface, it seems Marian is right. Why does Mark have to be such a jerk over something so small? Poor Marian can’t ask her husband for anything.
Not so fast.
We always have good reasons for our behavior—and it all stems out of the false beliefs we carry.
And nowhere else but in relationships does this get triggered more. That’s why relationships are the PhD of personal growth. When things get triggered it does not mean you’re in the wrong relationship, but rather that you’ve discovered a way to heal your false beliefs.
Mark has a deep fear of being controlled, having come from a very controlling mother, and often goes into resistance even when Marian is not being controlling.
For Marian’s part, she has placed all her sense of worth on Mark’s shoulders. If he rejects her, she takes it very personally. She immediately wonders if Mark even loves her. She does not recognize he’s coming from a wounded place, and that this has nothing at all to do with her.
In this scenario, both Marian and Mark are on auto-pilot, each acting out of their false beliefs about themselves. If they continue on this path, they will stay stuck and conclude there’s no point even trying to communicate with each other.
The same goes for whatever communication issue you and your partner are facing. Both of you are likely triggering a need for control in each other, even if it doesn’t at first appear this way. Once you become aware of this underlying reason, you can take specific loving action so that neither of you continues to get triggered.
In any moment, you have two choices: the intent to control or the intent to learn about yourself and your partner’s reasons for behaving the way he or she does.
If you don’t become conscious of your own intent to control, then you will always be frustrated by the communication in your relationship. You will not be able to interrupt the patterns that lead to fighting, distance, and disconnection.
In Day 17 of my program Wildly, Deeply, Joyously In Love, you’ll learn how to radically change the way you and your partner communicate…including how to talk about what you want and need without setting each other off.
You’ll see how I helped Marian and Mark resolve their conflict so that they no longer felt as if their relationship was a minefield. And if you can relate to their story, you’ll learn how you to can stop feeling rejected in your relationship and how much easier relating to each other can be.
This program is based on Inner Bonding, a six-step process that helps you heal your emptiness, anxiety, anger, shame, and loneliness.
Inner Bonding works where other therapies fail because it is focused on equipping you with the tools you need to communicate with your deepest feelings. Only then can you heal them, which in turn makes it so much easier for you to communicate with your partner and find the loving connection you’ve always longed for:Communication That Heals
When you begin to recognize your attempts to control when you communicate, you single-handedly transform the communication within your relationship. Without the need to control, things your partner does just don’t affect you the way they used to. You no longer take their behavior personally, and instead you become interested in learning more about each other. This intent to learn completely changes the dynamic between you, so that you become allies instead of adversaries.
P.S. Did you and your partner communicate well in the early stages of your relationship?
This is because at the beginning of the relationship partners are not making each other responsible for their feelings, nor trying to control the other person. They’re sharing themselves and listening to the other to LEARN about each other.
However, within a short time of moving into a committed relationship, they often stop learning and start controlling. Instead of giving and sharing, they are now trying to get something from each other.Recapture The Ease Of Your Early Days Together