Sometimes we get into trouble for things we did not even do. Remember, when you were a child and got blamed for something inappropriately? No doubt you felt angry, frustrated and resentful. If you protested your innocence, and you were believed, then you felt a little better. If you were not believed, the anger and resentment deepened.
In communication between adults, sometimes a person is judged without an opportunity to defend him or herself. This happens when we make assumptions about another’s intention, or the feeling implied by their behavior.
For example, a child forgets to take out the garbage. It’s not a high priority thing for the child, so it’s easy to forget. However, the parent assumes the child forgot because he/she doesn’t appreciate what the parents do for the child, has no respect, thinks children do not have to contribute, doesn’t love the parents, or is trying to upset them on purpose. The parent reacts emotionally to the oversight, and the child cannot fathom why a garbage issue is such a big deal. Yes, the garbage emptying must be improved, but it has nothing to do with love.
On summer weekends, a husband may seem more motivated to play golf than to spend time with his wife. She concludes that he must not love her very much, and that golf is more important than the relationship. She starts talking divorce, and he cannot understand how they could have been so happy two days ago, and just because he’s going golfing, it’s all over. Perhaps they need to work out ways they can both get needs met, but loving golf does not mean he does not love her.
She is not in the mood for intimacy. She rebuffs his advances, and he decides that she is withholding, so responds with anger. He gives her the cold shoulder, and questions if she still finds him attractive. Really, she is experiencing PMS, is feeling a little depressed, and is also brooding about something that happened at work. They need to be able to talk about what’s happening for them more openly, but declining intimacy does not mean rejection, punishment, or lack of love.
The best way to avoid a downhill slide in relationships is to check out your perceptions. Ask if the child appreciates what you do, and wants to be helpful; ask if he is golfing to avoid time together, or is just passionate about the game; ask if she’s got a lot on her mind, or if her feelings towards you are changing. If you ask in a gentle, non-accusatory way, and accept that what the person tells you really is their truth, then you can avoid creating emotional chaos. Your relationships will remain much healthier, and communication will improve.
Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.
Related MP3s Available:
Trust and Fidelity
Conflict Resolution in Relationships
Codepenency and Projection
When Relationships Break Down