So your partner comes home, you have been feeling lonely and upset that he’s been out, and as he walks through the door you say with a jab, ”So glad you could find some time away from your friends to finally come home and be with me!” And that’s where it starts. Your partner gets defensive and before you know it you are each in different corners feeling wounded and confused about what just happened.
When we lose our authentic voice in relationships, we often create a communication dynamic that is destined to end up in an adversarial feeling of either disconnection or betrayal. Take a look. (Some examples from Daniel B Wile, Ph.D. Collaborative Couple Therapy)
Makes Partner An Enemy
|“Why do you spend more time with your friends than you spend with me?”
Makes Partner a
|I’ll say nothing and kill a part of myself emotionally in hope that the feeling will go away.
|If enough of you leaves emotionally, eventually you’ll leave too.
Makes Partner Victim or a Victimizer
|“I may as well leave since the only people you talk to are your friends.” “You better start talking to me or I’ll find someone else to talk to.”
|Creates a fear dynamic and creates a lack of safety.
Makes partner invalid or non-existent
|“ Have it your way, spend all your time with your friends.”
|You check out and the relationship dies.
There is a better way. Use your authentic voice and say what you mean.
When You Find Your Voice and Use It:
Makes your partner an ally or friend.
|“I hate to admit it but I miss you and I am a jealous of all the time you are spending with your friends.”
|Creates empathy and understanding Creates intimacy and compassion.
Many of us are afraid to be vulnerable in relationships because we have been taught that vulnerability is a bad thing that makes us weak and puts us at risk. Actually, just the opposite is true. Standing vulnerably in your truth is a great place of power and takes immense courage. Relationships that are not built on truth don’t have a chance. If you are courageous enough to tell me your true feelings in an authentic way, the end result for me is greater respect for you and a feeling of increased trust is us as a couple. Being vulnerable in a relationship is a way of saying, I trust you with my innermost feelings. If you don’t feel you can do that with your partner, then it’s time to work on issues of trust in the relationship and find out what is creating the lack of safety.
Some of the things that create a lack of safety are:
• The absence of clear boundaries about what can be shard or not shared out side of the relationship.
• Couples who have used intimate exchanges later as ammunition in an argument.
• Unclear contracts about where we are in our relationship or commitment.
• A lack of communication.
Saying what you mean does not guarantee that you always get what you want. What it does guarantee is deeper intimacy and greater depth to your connection with each other because there is honesty.
Pleeeeze don’t use the lame excuse that you are not telling the truth simply because you don’t want to hurt the other person. People who say that are really saying they don’t want to deal with the fall out that telling the truth will create. If you know there is going to be fall out, you are either lying to cover your own butt, or in essence, saying that you don’t respect your partner enough to tell him or her the truth. Step up and be honest. The truth may not always be comfortable, but is it ALWAYS HEALING. And if this person in your life is deserving of your love, they are also deserving of the truth. Give it as a gift, no with a sledge hammer, but with love and compassion – but give it.
© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013