Here’s a situation close to my heart that I haven’t really talked about much before…this letter states the problem exactly, and I’d love to get a dialogue going around it…
I am 27 years old, I been with my high school sweetheart for almost ten years. We have been engaged for about ten years except he hasn’t officially proposed to me because he doesn’t have the money to purchase a ring. I love him and I know he loves me, but one of our biggest problems is our communication. It’s hard to explain, I feel as if one day we are very close and in touch with each others feelings, and the next day we get into a small fight- because I forgot to call or didn’t think about doing or saying something.
I feel like he bites my head off for small things, and if I apologize, (which I seem to do very often) it still doesn’t matter, he still remains upset with me and doesn’t want to get past it and move on. I feel tired of constantly feeling “inadequate” in our relationship. I feel like I’m always walking on eggshells. When I approach to talk to him about “our last fight” he says things like “you can talk all you want but I have nothing new to say.” This type of response from him makes me feel like I can’t fully trust him. One day he tells me that I should trust him more and be able to share anything, because he loves me and he wants to be that support for me. Yet, when I do, he shuts down….
I feel so confused and lost because I feel like he is not following through with his talks about how much he cares about me. I hate fighting with him and everytime it happens I just want to hurry up and make it better, either by apologyzing and clearing the air, etc. so that we can continue to enjoy each other. But, he is totally different, he could care less about making up. He stays like that for a few days until he finally decides that the whole situation is silly and that we should move on. I’m tired of this emotional drain-pattern, in my opinion is not normal.
I feel like we fight more than we make love, and as soon as we begin to reconnect, some stupid fight manages to sneak up on us and then we disconnect again!!! I don’t know what to do in order to feel secure in this relationship, secured to know that he is as crazy about me as I am about him. I don’t want to end the relationship because he truly is an amazing guy, I just don’t know how to inspire him to really SHOW his love for me. Do you think I’m been flaky and emotional?? I feel so insecure about myself right now…
Hope you can give me a helpful advice, Thanks Mary”
Dear Mary – I’m VERY familiar with this – you’ve got a MOODY man.
He has emotional issues. and the way he’s dealing with trying to keep himself together is by blowing steam out at you. The nicer you are, the more understanding you are, the more you tolerate this kind of thing – the worse it’s going to get – because your very “niceness” and “understanding” make him feel even WORSE about HIMSELF – and then he feels angrier with YOU for making him feel that way.
Plus (some bonus…) it completely destroys his ATTRACTION to you because he considers any woman who’d be “nice” to him when he KNOWS he’s being a “jerk” to be pretty much “worthless.” His respect for you will go down – and your self-esteem will take the plunge with it.
Step 1 for you: STOP being overly nice.
When he gets upset. say “I feel awful and I don’t want to fight.” Let him blow off a bit of his anger, and then say “This feels awful, I want to feel close to you, and I don’t want to fight…” and then LEAVE the room! If all he wants to do is vent at you – DON’T be his punching bag!!!
Say – “it would feel great to talk about how we can not have these kinds of fights. I’d love to talk about what’s going on and it doesn’t feel good.”
There may also be something he’s feeling bad and guilty about that you have NO IDEA about (and it may be something you DO know about – work, family, kids, money…) – and so he’s taking it out on you. (And please don’t start getting worried or suspicious – I just want to make you aware – but an attraction to or flirtation with another woman, though it’s just one of hundreds of possibilities of things that might be bothering him, is a possibility. I’ve seen this kind of thing sneak up on many a bright, lovely woman when her man is angry, tense, combative, starting arguments, and making drama.)
My guess is this has nothing to do with you (or any other woman) – and everything to do with something going on with him in his life outside of you that’s making him feel bad. Money issues alone (and you mention he can’t afford a ring…) can do this to a man.
What you need to do next is to learn to…
Step 2 – TALK
So – how do you talk about problems in a relationship without doing the dreaded “relationship talk”?
First, you have to write this out. Write out a speech full of Feeling Messages and business-like fact gathering. Your goal here is INTIMACY and CLOSENESS – NOT to get him to change, or do what you want. The DIALOGUE alone is what you want – and ANYTHING that happens is part of that…
Start with “I’ve noticed we’re angry a lot, and fighting a lot, and it feels awful. I don’t know what to do. I know there are things we’re both upset about – (money…sex…whatever’s always coming up), and it would feel so good to talk about it and solve some of it. Can we talk? Is now a good time? What do you think?”
Let him respond. Really listen to him, without thinking about your own agenda.
If you’re feeling frightened of his possible anger, and you can feel yourself wanting to walk on eggshells, say “I’m feeling afraid. I’m afraid of your anger. I can feel myself wanting to tiptoe and walk on eggshells, and I don’t want to do that. That feels awful.”
If at any point he starts attacking you verbally – try a Power Speech (my Toxic Men program is all about Power Speeches) – where you say something like - “I hear how angry you are. I hear that you’re angry with me…This feels scary, and yet I want to feel heard, and so I want to hear you…and yet I feel really, really bad, and now I’m feeling attacked, and I don’t want to feel attacked. I’m happy to hear how you feel, and I don’t want to be attacked, and so I’m going to leave now…” And just walk backwards and away.
Don’t let him strong-arm you, and don’t let him attack you. Screaming at you is not attacking you. Leaning forward with his face red and his fists in the air is pretty scary, but as long as you’re sure he would never touch you or physically hurt you, you want to be able to stand there while he turns red and screams “I’m just so frustrated with you!” (Even though you’d NEVER say that to him – you’d just say “I’m feeling so frustrated!”)
The more anger that’s unexpressed, the more distant the relationship. There’s no way to heal this without the anger coming up. You have to be able to hear it without folding – even though it may trigger an old traumatic reaction inside you and make you want to run or scream back – or just freeze. See if you can do none of those things (it takes practice) – and simply say how you feel. And when you’ve had enough – just say – “I’ve reached my limit, I can’t hear anymore,” and leave.
If you do this, you’ll break all your old patterns, and you’ll feel so much better and stronger inside. And if he still can’t join in the dialogue to save your relationship – and without attacking you – then you will likely feel less and less for him. It will be YOU losing interest in HIM.
Remember – this isn’t about you being understanding and tolerating him however he is. This is very specifically standing your ground and building YOUR tolerance for being present when he’s angry, and knowing when to walk away when you’ve had enough.
It’s sort of a fearless, powerful thing to do – and he’ll get it right away.
You may be shocked to find the whole anger experience turns into a crying experience – yours AND his – though he’ll likely do anything he can to keep from going there, and anger is a really standard way men get to stay away from their pain.
Remember, too – you may be aware of the pain underneath his anger – but he’s NOT A LITTLE BOY. Do not “understand” him and be “nice” to him because of the pain you know is underneath. Just build your own ability to tolerate being in the presence of intense emotion – especially YOURS (this is where Modern Siren comes in…) – and you’ll be surprised how quickly things get intimate, and the blow ups become less and less a part of your relationship.
Try getting your mind around this, and then practice in your imagination. Let me know what happens next time…Love, Rori