So, this week I’ve been talking to a lot of people about some of the issues that come up in relationships.
If you have a partner, or if you had a partner previously, you’ll know that what I’m about to outline is something that happens on a regular basis in relationships, and it is the core difference between how men and women approach a problem.
When a woman gets upset about something… Let’s say your partner has said something or done something that has upset the female in the relationship, often she will just withdraw, and she might start stomping around or banging doors in the house, to let her partner know that she’s upset, but often she doesn’t quite know what the problem is.
It’s really interesting that when woman withdraw, they have an expectation that their partner will pursue them to find out what the problem is – and men usually don’t pursue. So, there ends up being a situation where a problem has occurred, as a woman I have withdrawn and I am expecting my partner to come and say ‘Darling, what’s wrong’? Sometimes they do approach, they may come and ask ‘Are you okay’?
This is where our No.1 problem starts… As what, as women, do we always say? ‘Nothing’s wrong – I’m fine’! Yet, you’re actually not fine at all! It makes me laugh…
Why do we actually do this to ourselves?
The reason is that you, as a woman, expect that you shouldn’t have to tell your partner what’s wrong, that he should know what’s wrong. So, when he comes to you and asks ‘What’s up’? (Because he’s male and actually doesn’t understand what happened in your head that made you upset). You downplay you’re frustration and say ‘Nothing. I’m fine’! We do ourselves such an injustice and we cause more problems in our relationships than we need to.
If we can take the time when we get upset about something, as women, to retreat but utilise the time to consider ‘What is it that I’m actually bothered about’? You may discover your thinking has led to particular feelings coming up and this then impacts your behavior. “Oh, actually, he said ‘this’, and that reminded me of when somebody else (previous partner or parent) said ‘that’, I suddenly feel like I’m unimportant, or not wanted”! Or, when he says something that surprises you, you think ‘Oh, really? Is that the sort of person that he is? Wow! I didn’t pick that. Does that mean I’ve chosen for a partner somebody that I thought I knew, but I didn’t expect them to behave that way, so maybe I don’t know them at all”! “Oh great here we go again, I can’t trust my own judgement”!
I know that’s what goes through your head… Because that is exactly what happens with me and many other women tell me that this is also their experience.
So, where there has been an issue in my relationship, I get to a point where I’m aware that I’m being short or quiet around my partner, I will stop myself at that point and think “Hang on! I’ve withdrawn… And I know I must have withdrawn because I’m angry about something, or I’m upset”. So, I spend that time trying to ask myself “What is it that my partner said, that caused me to be upset? I think I understand, but what it is that when that person said ‘blah’ (insert any words here), and I got upset about it… Why? What is it about me and my perception of myself”?
We always try and externalise the blame. That is why you get into arguments. You get into a space in which you’re thinking “You upset me because you said ‘blah’ and you are the problem”! You get upset and you throw it all back onto your partner.
We only do that because internally we don’t feel good. Something in the interaction has made you feel bad, so you try to offset that by throwing ‘Molotov cocktails’ at the other person. “It’s your fault, you did this, you did that”, instead of looking at what is going on inside of yourself.
If you can take the time to look inside yourself, before you throw your Molotov cocktails, and ask yourself “What has this activated in me? What is it about what they did, that makes me feel bad about myself”? Trust me, it’s in there! Something that they have said or done has made you feel invalidated, or like you did something wrong, that you can’t trust your own judgement, or that you are not important to them, or you’re feeling inadequate and not good enough for them. The result? You get angry and you start throwing that stuff back at them.
If you want to ensure that an intimate relationship can survive, the main thing that you need to when you become aware of those conflicts, is to pull back and ask yourself “What is it that just happened, that made me feel this way about myself”? Once you are clear about what it is, you then need to be able to have a sit-down conversation with your partner, where you’re actually taking time out to have a connected communication about the issue. This needs to be at a point in time when there is no active confrontation or argument, so once you have calmed down.
You need to frame it in terms of “Okay, I got upset when this happened. When you said ‘blah’, what I heard was something else”, or “What I heard, activated something in me that didn’t make me feel good about myself and that is about my own past or my own history. I need you to know about it because when you say those things, this is how I respond and this is how it makes me feel”.
If you can do that, if you can take responsibility for your own feelings and be able to communicate them to your partner, without blame, you will find that something miraculous happens… There won’t be an argument because they don’t feel like they have to fight back, because you’re not attacking them. They feel like you’re able to explain to them what it is that you got upset about.
Honestly, ladies, most men don’t understand. They think that if you have an argument at night and you go to bed cranky, that when you wake up the next morning, you’ll be fine. Let’s just forget about it, and move on! Isn’t that how most men manage their lives? It’s true! Most men just think you can go to sleep and when you wake up in the morning, you should be okay… But you’re still bloody cranky!
You still want him to make some effort, show you that he loves and cares about you, and pursue you to find out what your problem is! Yet, when he pursues you and asks you what’s wrong, you say “Nothing!” Because you think he should KNOW what’s wrong…
Honestly gorgeous, we are our own worst enemy at times!
I always find it useful to take the time to first try to understand myself and my own behavior. Especially in relationships, because there is always that challenge of connecting and communicating.
I love being in a relationship, but far out… It’s a lot of work!
I hope that was helpful.
I’ll see you soon…