Can you notice how when you are in a bad mood your relationship suffers? This pretty much happens to all of us. I know it happens to me, plenty. I will feel depressed, or anxious or worried about something and then I am in some kind of mood and then no one feels good around me.
I also know that if I am in such a mood, I am usually unaware that I am in a mood in that moment. After the mood passes I can look back and see how my upset feelings really impacted the way I acted. This is good to do, notice yourself after you have had an upset.
When you read the title you might say to yourself, “I don’t do that, I don’t withhold affection or love from my person.” The truth, though, is we all do it. Every one of us who is in a relationship does it. That’s because that’s how humans act when they get their feelings hurt. We don’t love our other when we are suffering. That’s a fact.
Think about it. You and your mate are having a disagreement. You feel they did something to you. They feel you did something to them. You are both mad at the other. Are you withholding love from your person then? Of course you are. We ALL do this.
We all get wounded by the people we love. This is part of being human. The hard part though, when we are in a relationship, is putting the pain between you and your partner.
And we do this almost instinctively. We get our feelings hurt and boom the wall comes up or we tell them incredibly strongly how much they hurt us.
This pattern is pervasive with couples. I see it in my therapy practice. I live it in my own life. When I am hurt I am unable to ask for what I need. My instincts are to fight. I don’t raise my fists or anything, but my insides look for someone to blame. I usually become angry on the inside after I feel hurt and I express it, sometimes loudly.
We all know what it feels like to feel love. We are also keenly aware of what is feels like when we don’t feel it. So if we know what it feels like, can we describe what it looks like? This is such a difficult question, and it’s so hard for many couples to really describe what love is. So let’s give it a go.
As I think about this, I wonder if it might be easier to describe what it is NOT. I was talking to a client recently and she was telling me how she loves her man very much. When he asks for something she goes out of her way to give it to him. For the client, this is an action of love.
Another client was telling me about a vacation where her husband was trying to make his two daughters happy by buying them everything they wanted. And they were still not happy. So I think it’s OK to look at what love isn’t in these two examples.
Doing things for your mate with the expectation that they will be happy is not love.
Some of us just do a lot in our relationships. We listen to what our partner wants. We think about their needs and we do what we can to make them feel taken care of and happy. Many of us do this just automatically because we are kind, caring people. And so, it feels terrible when it appears “my husband still isn’t satisfied” or “my wife is never happy.”
But how many of us just get exhausted doing and doing everything we can and our partner is still unhappy? They are still not satisfied with all our help. And besides not having our partner happy, we are now exhausted because we have run out of gas.
It’s funny to think of not being good at “living” life. All of us, as humans, pride ourselves at being effective. Every one of us does things to the best of our ability. And yet, many relationships are not satisfying to the people in them. And many people wonder why being in a relationship is so hard.
Well, there are good reasons for relationship challenges. For starters, where did you learn how to be in a relationship? Maybe you saw some movies or watched other people. Maybe you saw examples of what not to do and vowed to do something different. Or perhaps you had examples that you thought were good but they are not proving to work in your current relationship.
Dealing with conflict in relationships isn’t something many of us were born knowing how to do. Some of us, however, may have had parents who set a good example for us and taught us some of those skills. But for the rest of us, we need to learn how to understand the pain we cause […]
I worked with a couple recently. The man was very angry at his wife. The man wanted his wife to end a work situation that he resented. He resented this work situation very much and considered this to be the problem, the only problem in the marriage.
The marriage was suffering. The wife was unhappy. The husband was unhappy. He believed that if she left her work situation the marriage and their happiness level would improve. The wife however, LOVED her work and derived a lot of joy from it.
She felt empowered by it and carried a great sense of pride over what she had accomplished. These feelings were discounted by the husband as proof that he had been left. His anger prevented him from feeling anything except her not valuing him.