When you feel your partner is not hearing what you are saying, remember the last argument you had. How does it look like when you are in a relationship conflict?
- Criticism, blaming and complaint on one side and stonewalling on another
- You both can’t stand conflicts and don’t talk much
- You both fire up really quicky and your disagreements look like a battlefield
We learn how to deal with criticism, guilting, belittling when we are young. Whether it was merely unpleasant or fully catastrophic, you had to develop coping strategies to deal with painful emotions. Then, when you hear criticism from your partner it reaches that sore spot, and you feel under attack as to how you felt in the past. Your partner’s face or tone of voice can be a sign that it’s coming. But you know how to deal with it! You are fully prepared! Your shield goes up and you are ready to counter-attack or run away from the dangerous situation.
If you hear your mom’s voice through the voice of your partner, you can quickly come back to where you were before – the place where we felt useless, not loveable, small. Say your partner complains: We haven’t gone on vacation together in so long!. You hear: You never want to spend money on us! You are not smart enough to get promoted! You are such a bad husband who doesn’t provide for those whom he loves!
That’s how relationship conflict starts. A simple complaint is experienced as an attack on your character and you get defensive. Defence mechanisms play an important role in our self-preservation strategy. Their role to make us feel better because it’s extremely unpleasant to be reminded that you are failing at something or there is something wrong with you. Defensive strategies help us to shift that focus on others, away from our sense of inadequacy or being a failure.
The defence mechanism in a relationship can show up in different forms. There are immature defence mechanisms like projection or blaming others or denial and mature, like the humour of chatter.
How To Get Your Partner To Listen To You
When we are calm and don’t feel under attack we are able to have a discussion on any topic. You two adults have enough capacity to find a solution that works for you. So, how we keep that calm and relaxed mind? Those emotions seem to be always in the way. In therapy together we will identify your partner’s behaviour that triggers your reactions and find a way to keep our mind calm and collected. An EFT therapist will help you to see your partner’s perspective, get through their defensive behaviour and finally get heard.
When you are on your own, starting to express your feelings using ‘I-Statements ‘ is a good start. This goes along with the teaching of non-violent communication. Don’t say ‘You made me sad’, instead, say ‘I feel sad because we had that heater argument the other day’. Try to talk without blaming and judging tone in your conversation.