If you are wondering how to have a healthy relationship and get your partner to listen to how you feel, there are some simple ways using some effective communication skills that don't let blame or resentment getting in the way.
Married life or being in a relationship is not always fun and games.
You may be feeling frustrated that your partner won't listen. Somehow, your relationship has become stuck in the blame game, filled with criticism, finding fault, or stuck in the push-pull dynamic.
Everyone goes through relationship problems. But, if you're stuck in the push-pull pattern, you can feel rejected when your partner ignores you. So, you keep raising your point to get heard. However, you can come across as attacking when you're only desperate to be heard.
If you both feel blamed, you can't hear how the other person feels. Issues do not get resolved when couples get stuck in the blame game.
Here are 8 ways you play the blame game in your relationship (so you can stop).
- You feel bitter or resentful towards each other, instead of express how you feel.
- You can't let go of issues, punishing each other- instead of addressing the issue when things are calm.
- You play tit for tat, instead of set limits or boundaries on the behaviors that hurt you.
- You get back at each other for the things that hurt you, instead of assertively raising the issue when they impact you.
- You blame your partner for how you feel, rather than acknowledge how their behavior impacts you.
- You blame, label or judge the person's character, rather than focus on the issue.
- You point the finger and find fault in them for the cause of the problem, instead of letting them know where you stand.
- You make accusations or assumptions about their behavior, drawing your own conclusions, rather than be curious and open to exploring things
- You bring things up when you're angry, so you come across as attacking or complaining, instead of raising the issue in real time when it occurs.
The ways that couples protect themselves from pain can end up causing more hurt. Sometimes, couples can't manage these conflicts on their own, because they react to discharge their feelings.
If you feel rejected or feel not good enough in your relationship, it's easy to protect yourself from feeling this way by finding fault in the person who triggers you. You can end up blaming your partner for how you feel when these feelings get stirred up.
So, your marriage becomes stuck in blame or criticism.
It can feel safer to alleviate the pain by using criticism or blame in order to avoid the feeling. You may find that the ways you protect yourself from hurt can end up evoking a defensive response in your partner.
Like many couples, it is easy to get stuck in the negative pattern of interactions that protects you from how you feel. John Gottman's research predicted that blame, defensiveness, contempt, and criticism are strong predictors for divorce.
Instead of being understood for how you feel, perhaps you've become misunderstood as attacking your partner. This can cause him or her to move away or react defensively.
Communication breaks down when you each feel blamed or attacked, instead of understanding the underlying hurt. So you're unable to respond in a way that meets each other’s needs.
So, how do you communicate how you feel without shifting the blame in your relationship? Here are 7 ways.
- Expressing your feelings using "I" statements, instead of 'you' statements.
- Raise issues after you've processed how you feel, rather than react in the heat of the moment.
- Find a suitable time to raise issues when each of you is calm and accessible to each other.
- If things escalate, let the other person know you can't manage the conversation at this point in time and come back to it after a break.
- Before you express yourself, ask yourself how the other person is likely to respond.
- Express yourself while considering how the other will receive you. Express yourself from the mindset that your partner can hear you.
- Get in touch with the underlying feeling behind your reaction and express how you feel: "I feel hurt when you said..."
Sometimes it is difficult to defuse anger and communicate how you feel without blame in your relationship, especially if the feelings are too overwhelming to deal with on your own.
Couples counseling can help to illuminate the underlying feelings behind the reaction so you can express how you feel, rather than hurt each other. It is designed to dismantle negative patterns of interaction, so partners can express the underlying hurt in ways that build a stronger connection.
In this way, couples can de-escalate blame in the relationship.
Couples can see each other through particular lenses, shaped from past experiences with caregivers. Seeing a therapist can offer clearer perspectives or offer other ways of seeing each other that can shift how you feel towards your partner, and respond in ways that meet each other’s needs.
When you can defuse blame, instead of being seen as attacking, your partner might understand your feelings of rejection and respond in a way that makes you feel more secure. Instead of withdrawing, he might not be scared of your reaction and come closer towards you.
In order to break the negative cycle of interaction and have healthy relationships, you can practice new ways of communicating and ways to respond, while becoming more in touch with how you feel. When you express how you feel, you stop pointing the finger and blaming each other, allowing you to hear each other.
When you take this relationship advice to heart, you'll have more chances of getting him to listen when he doesn't feel blamed for the problem.
When you can respond in a way that doesn't ignite a reaction, you can be more available and accessible to hear each other. Instead of protecting yourself and hurting each other, you can open yourself up to receiving and giving love back.
If your relationship is stuck in the blame, you can help to break down the defensive patterns of communication, move past stuckness and foster moments of deeper connection.
In this way, you can communicate while defusing the blame in your relationship, and learn how to express your feelings without blame or resentment getting in the way.