"If Only You Would Get What You Are Doing!"By Dr. Margaret Paul
January 19, 2015
Is your relationship stuck in a pattern of blame where you both feel like victims of the other person?
One of the most common dynamics I see with the couples I work with is that each of them is convinced that if only their partner would see what he or she is doing to cause the relationship problems, their relationship would get so much better. They each see clearly what the other person is doing to cause their problems, but they are generally clueless regarding when they are doing. They truly believe that they are just reacting to the other's unloving behavior instead of understanding that they each brought their own controlling strategies into the relationship.
An example of this is a typical situation that frequently occurs between Gavin and Julie.
"Julie blames me for her feelings all the time. She is constantly trying to get me to see that my harshness and coldness is ruining our relationship. But I don't know what else to do but withdraw when she is attacking me. At first I try to understand her feelings, but when she goes on blaming me, it hurts me and scares me and I just have to shut down to her. I feel like I'm walking on eggshells. And she can't seem to understand why I don't feel like making love with her."
"When Gavin is cold and harsh, I just feel so awful and scared. I don’t think I can go on in this marriage if he continues to be so withdrawn, harsh and parental. When he does talk with me, the tone of his voice is scary to me. I feel like I can't do anything right – that everything is always my fault."
Gavin and Julie both, in different ways, keep trying to get the other to see what they are doing wrong.
Gavin's focus is: "If only you would see that dumping your feelings on me, and yelling at me and blaming me is why I end up being cold, harsh and withdrawn. I don't know what else to do."
Julie's focus is: If only you would see that not being here for me when I need you, and always making me wrong with your coldness and harsh voice is why I end up feeling so upset and angry."
Actually, both are right regarding what the other person is doing, but neither is right that the other person is the cause of their own behavior.
Gavin comes from a controlling mother who constantly guilted him for not being there for her. When Julie does this, it triggers Gavin's learned protective, controlling behavior of getting harsh, cold and parental.
Julie comes from a cold, angry, emotionally unavailable father. When Gavin is cold and parental, she gets triggered into her learned protective, controlling behavior of anger and blame.
Gavin and Julie love each other, but it is likely that their relationship won't survive as long as they are both focused on getting the other person to see what they are doing to cause the problems.
They CAN Heal Their Relationship!
For their relationship to heal and grow, each of them needs to take their eyes off the other and learn to take responsibility for their own feelings and actions. They each need to let go of the false belief that the other person is the cause of their own reactive, controlling behavior. They each need to recognize that they are not victims, and that their fears are not actually of the other person, but of the fact that neither has developed a loving adult inside who knows how to take loving care of themselves when the other person is acting from their wounded self.
If they want to heal, then they each need to practice Inner Bonding and spend time together only when both are open and loving with themselves and each other.
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Ask yourself with each choice you make today, "Would I want this announced in the newspapers?" Staying in integrity means thinking and behaving in ways you are proud of. Be vigilant about your integrity - it will move you into the light.
By Dr. Margaret Paul