"How Can I Get Him To Stop Hurting Me?"By Dr. Margaret Paul
April 08, 2013
Are you aware of the system you have created with your partner that may be causing you pain?
I have worked with couples for 44 years, and one thing I can tell you for sure: relationships are a system, and each partner has an equal part of the system. People come together at their common level of woundedness – which is their common level of self-abandonment. In many relationships, each partner is very aware of the other person's end of the system, but completely unaware of their own end. They tend to trigger the other person's wounded self with their own wounded self, but they often don't recognize their own wounded self. Here is an example of this:
"How do you suggest telling someone they're doing something that hurts your feelings and to ask them to stop? My husband recently accused me of finding a way to blame my depressed feelings on him. He believes that I wake up in the morning feeling depressed and then try to find something to pin it on. My experience is that if he says something that bothers me and I don't say something right when it happens or if he tells me I'm being defensive and I shut down, that I often wake up feeling resentful the next day, but when I tell him that I'm upset he gets defensive and tells me I have a problem."
I'm going to take each part of this question separately, to exemplify the common level of self-abandonment in this system.
"How do you suggest telling someone they're doing something that hurts your feelings and to ask them to stop?"
In a loving relationship, each person can simply say to their partner, "When you do that or say that, it hurts me." When there is loving and caring between them, they each want to know what hurts the other and they will be motivated to not do the hurtful thing.
However, if you have to ponder how to tell your partner he or she is hurting you, then something else is going on in the system.
"My husband recently accused me of finding a way to blame my depressed feelings on him. He believes that I wake up in the morning feeling depressed and then try to find something to pin it on."
What's evident here is that Allison is depressed, but is not taking responsibility for how SHE is treating herself that may be causing her depression.
"My experience is that if he says something that bothers me and I don't say something right when it happens or if he tells me I'm being defensive and I shut down, that I often wake up feeling resentful the next day…"
Here Allison is explaining how she is NOT taking responsibility for her feelings. Instead of either speaking up for herself in the moment or compassionately going inside to take care of her feelings, she abandons herself by getting defensive and shutting down. Then she wakes up resentful due to not taking loving care of herself. She believes she is resentful toward her husband - that she is a victim and he is causing her feelings, rather than that her inner child is resentful toward her for not taking loving care of herself.
"…when I tell him that I'm upset he gets defensive and tells me I have a problem."
Here she is blaming her husband and denying that he is accurate in the fact that she is blaming him. She is telling him she is upset in order to blame him and make it his fault.
Then he responds from his wounded self, getting defensive and telling her she has a problem, rather than taking responsibility for his pain at being blamed and/or moving into an intent to learn with her.
In this system, neither are taking loving care of their feelings, both are defending themselves and blaming the other. Both are equally in their wounded selves.
Here is what I would say to Allison:
"Allison, instead of focusing on what to say to your husband, why not focus on taking loving care of your own feelings? If you were to do this, it would completely change your dysfunctional system. You can't stop him from saying hurtful things – you don't have that control – but you do have control over your own intent to compassionately love yourself or to abandon yourself by blaming him. Learning how to love yourself through your Inner Bonding practice will change everything, because his behavior toward you may be reflecting how you are rejecting yourself."
If Allison learns to love herself, she might be happily surprised at the improvement in her relationship!
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."
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Photo by Kabel Desch
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Today, focus on your physical health. Are you conscious of what you eat? Are you getting enough exercise and sleep? Are you noticing the thoughts that cause stress? Today, practice becoming conscious of your physical wellbeing.
By Dr. Margaret Paul