Wednesday, October 6, 2010
When we fight
Thankfully, it's not often that my partner and I fight, but when we do, it can last days. The silent treatment is our favourite. We're both too old to yell and say mean things to each other (at least initially). Here's our pattern.
1. He does something to upset me. Remember my rejection post from a few days ago? Well he was not there for me when I needed him the most and it really hurt. So I told him that he let me down (in the most direct and honest way possible).
Mistake #1: Letting my partner know that he has disappointed me is the absolute worse thing I could've said. For us, it's the equivalent of telling a man his dick is small. Seriously. It goes straight to the heart -- he feels like a failure. He feels completely unloved and thinks that I feel he ALWAYS disappoints (which is not true).
2. He gets defensive and explains why I should not be upset. He makes perfectly logical excuses for himself and expects everything to be fine.
Mistake #2: I'm already feeling hurt and not cared for, invalidating my feelings more makes me even more upset. I need him to listen, understand my pain, give me a hug, show me that I matter to him.
3. He feels my disapproval even more now and blames me for upsetting him and expects an apology from me.
Mistake #3: I am now even more pissed off than before and there's no way in fucking hell I am apologizing. Now the gloves are off. Forget about enlightenment and biting my tongue. Anything that's pissed me off in the last month is about to come out. This is war.
On my bike ride in this morning I was thinking about how all of this could have been avoided if I had just lowered my expectations of him. Empathy is not his forte (he's even worse than me). He shows support through service -- taking care of the kids and our home and he does it very well. I have to keep reminding myself that I can't expect my partner to fulfill all of my needs. This is why I have my Mom and my girlfriends to turn to. They are not obligated to make me feel better and because of that I do not get upset if they are not available; they have their own loved ones that need them.
My partner wants to be my hero by fixing my problems. He's a bloody engineer! Like yesterday, I had to go downtown but didn't want to ride my bike in heavy traffic. So my partner suggested I bike halfway, bus it in and then bike back which was a brilliant idea. He was so proud of himself and I was genuinely grateful for his advice. I know this is a small example, but that's where his comfort zone is. Growing up with two brothers and a cold father hasn't taught him to be sensitive to women. In fact when I think back to when we were dating I remember him telling me what a relief it was to be with someone who wasn't emotional! He doesn't want to be my shoulder to cry on and I should stop wanting to change him.