Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that were a true statement? Yet as it is with anything in life, we do forget and we instead take for granted that, that we cherish and value so dearly. Intimate relationships are perhaps the most challenging experience of our lives. It opens us up, tears down our walls and lets us see the sunshine that we did not think existed. It makes us feel like we have come home and never want to leave. Our inner child can play safely within the walls of it and our sexy beasts can wander free within its chambers. In this same enchanted space of love and intimacy where we lose ourselves in the arms of another, we also lose ourselves to our deepest buried demons and devils where unfortunately we do forget how much we love this other soul. In this wounded state we pick up our armor and charge into battle without thought or even care often. Our battle plan? Based on survival and with the use of tactics that we reserve for only the most special people of our lives — our significant other.
In this triggered state of pain, ego, fear and judgment we may find ourselves feeling all the more threatened. Standing on the defense we fight to make our points be made and us be seen. We criticize, confront and even beg for our partner to recognize their fault and the pain that it has put us into. From this state of our pain body and ego we will do almost anything to be right and to prevent any further pain upon ourselves. And so we deflect by raising our emotional armor and detaching ourselves from love and care of our partner or the relationship.
Our cruelest selves are revealed as an attempt to protect that, that we cherish so dearly and want to keep safe — our emotional selves, that have been abandoned before and have lost so much throughout life and in relationship. Our desire to avoid the hardships of severe disappointment put us into a tailspin, where we no longer are sane and do not even recognize ourselves. All we see is fear and wounding. It is from this state of hyper-emotion we engage in some of our worst warfare.
5 of the Cruelest Things Couples Do to Each Other
Threatening the Big “D” or Separation: This truly is potentially one of the biggest relationship sabotagers that we humans engage in. Not realizing how destabilizing this threat can be, we throw it out at our partner when we are lost for answers, have no clue what to do and see no light in the challenge that we find ourselves in. We may say that it is not what we want, and more than likely this is accurate, however when we speak these condemning words to our partner what we do is shatter the foundation of our relationship, that being trust and safety. This is potentially one of the harshest, if not the harshest statements to make to our loved one and it is very difficult to repair the cracks that it creates with just one blow from its ax. Once these words are spoken it leaves with it a forever lingering feeling of doubt that plagues the relationship.
Play my way or highway emotional/physical game: This can be stonewalling or retracting love in some fashion. Often, we do this when we cannot come to an agreement over something or want our partner to act/feel differently than they do about something and in an attempt to get them to come to our side we pull away our attention. This can be anything from silent treatment, becoming aloof and non-communicative, not physically touching, or no longer sharing opinions to name a few. This relationship cruelty creates a wall between the two, tearing the partnership apart and creating two very separate individuals again. In this tactic we are acting like the spoiled child who is not getting their way so is taking their ball and not going to play and preventing everyone including self from having any connection. This creates a feeling of emotional abandonment in the partner that is being pulled away from. Creating a deep sense of shame and guilt.
Contempt AKA the “I am better than you syndrome” or irritation with a partner for being who they are: Another very difficult hurdle to overcome once it is formed. When we start to have actual contempt for our partner it breaks the bonds of love and union because it has us viewing our partner in a belittling way. We see them as “less than us” and are frustrated with who and how they are. I see this often when people believe that their relationship issues are one sided, that it’s their partner who is “broken or wrong” and needs to do all the healing and changing and they believe that they are “just fine” as they are. There is no relationship healing that can ever come from this place because it is not true. The saying it takes two to tango is very accurate and any challenge you have in your relationship on any level or topic was created by both of you. This contemptful attitude is the furthest thing from partnership, love or the “entity of us” and all it ends up doing is further creating a barrier as well as making the one who is being told that they are broken, to question every aspect of their reality and not trust themselves. It will make the strongest person over time feel unworthy of love and doubt their every move.
Criticism and defensiveness through non-acceptance of partners’ feelings: Number one thing that many people say they value in their relationship is honesty and truth. No one wants to be lied to, however with the intimacy of honesty from our partner we must also often face that our partner may not view or feel the way that we want them to about certain situations, and this can be scary and painful. It is because we want to not feel this pain that we are unaccepting of our partner’s vulnerability of truth with us, and we may demand for them to feel differently or believe that they can or “should” change their feelings around whatever troubling topic is on the table. However, if we truly value honesty and want them to feel safe in sharing theirs with us then we have to find the strength and courage to not have such knee jerk reactions when they share something that makes us go, “ouch!” When we criticize our partners for their feelings about something we are telling them that they are not accepted or loveable when they share their truth around these matters, that they are “getting it wrong” and must change in order to earn our love. When we become defensive about how they are feeling or view something we are showing our non-acceptance and emotional immaturity by making our childish demands that our partner not be the person that we fell in love with but instead pretend to be who we feel safer and more comfortable with. However, the kicker is that we want what we want them to be — to be their truth per our design. What we end up doing is harvesting a relationship container that is built on falsities and role playing based on the fear of not being lovable or accepted for who we are — therefore we are training our partner to relate to us out of this insecurity and step out of their personal integrity.
Expecting their partner to be at their beck and call: Sometimes we tend to forget that we are individuals that have chosen to make a life together and that as individuals our daily worlds and experiences are vastly different. Even if two people live together and both work from home, share equal responsibilities with house, chores and kids. Their internal realms are greatly different. You never know where anyone is truly at emotionally, mentally and often even physically, and that is the truth. Yet in couple hood we forget this fact and we believe that our partner is somehow always to be on the same page, same paragraph, sentence and even word as us. Ready to be ready to do whatever it is that we are wanting or needing. Especially around our sexual and emotional lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. I see often with men and women this issue where they do not have sex but maybe once a week, one partner is normally the instigator of the sex and alerts the other to “it’s time” with the concept that their partner should always be just ready to go when they are finally ready to go, not giving any attention to all the time spent separated with no courting, romance, foreplay, touch or intimacy building. Not looking at what is going on in their partner’s world with work, children, stress or health, just expecting it to be the way they want. Well news flash! Your partner is not one of the kitchen utensils that you can just pull out from under the cabinet where you were storing it the last week, plug it into the wall and turn it on. Your partner is a human being who needs human connection to be ready to be ready for you. What this relationship cruelty does is makes the partner who is expected to be at the other’s beck and call feel undervalued and only there for their mate’s use. They end up going through the motions with no heart in the game, emotionally disconnecting and feeling lost in the relationship.
Many of us have experienced these five relationship cruelties. As it is also true that many of us are guilty of enacting these power plays on our partners in the past and current. After reading through these you may feel differently about your actions and wonder why you have ever allowed such behavior from yourself. To you I applaud, because that is the first step to change and to heal the cracks that you have consciously or unconsciously created in your beautiful life and relationship. Coming back to compassionate communication based on wanting to know more, acceptance of your unique differences as individuals and the reality that you chose each other not because you wanted to boss each other around or shame one another but because you love each other and wanted to love, honor and protect.
What we forget about our most dear relationships, our married and committed unions is that we are making a vow to one another. And if we are to remain true to ourselves and make ourselves proud, honor who we are as individuals (men and women) then we must ask ourselves: “Am I being the best person I can be for the one that I love that stands before me? Am I upholding my vow of love, honor and protection? Do I respect myself for acting the way that I am right now? And would I accept this sort of treatment from my partner or anyone?”
Your truth and what to do is in your honest answers to these questions.
Sometimes our biggest quest in relationship is to save our beloved from ourselves by taking responsibility and becoming a better person.
As always, loving you from here.
Stop Existing & Start Living
“Coaching for Grown A*s Believers”
- Rene’ Schooler
This post was previously published on MEDIUM.COM.
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