“Emotions can get in the way or get you on the way.”
~ Mavis Mazhura
Sometimes, you need to clear the air and get things off your chest to improve situations and redirect the relationship in a better direction.
Flexibility, compromise, understanding and respect are all components of a good romance and both of you need to adjust to meet the important needs of the other, so that resentment and frustration do not become the foundation of your relationship.
What is the best way to implement this?
I suggest you start by stating all the good things you experience about the relationship.
How you enjoy each other’s company, how much fun you have together, how you appreciate all the sweet things your partner does, etc.
Then, you can interject that there is one thing that is bothering you that you want to share.
At this point, you clearly, without blame, express how you FEEL when “this particular thing” happens and how you would be much happier if it stopped.
Again, clarify that you enjoy the relationship because there are so many other positive things you share and that you hope your partner can see how you feel and you can find some mutual compromise.
What you are doing is opening the floor to discussion and hopefully, to a solution.
You are stating how you feel about a certain problem that makes you uncomfortable and allowing your partner to see the situation through your eyes. You are keeping the environment open, cordial, flexible and pleasant.
When you interject anger, disgust, sarcasm or annoyance, you will be putting your partner on the defensive, which will defeat your purpose of creating change.
Keep in mind that you may need to change as well, in order for things to be a win-win situation.
He probably has a few complaints about you he’d like to discuss. This can be very positive for the relationship and it could be a genuine catalyst for bringing you two closer together.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
Being able to regulate your emotions is a skill that takes time to learn.
It means that feelings you may be experiencing – anger, fear, guilt, etc. don’t lead to automatic responses. Rather you learn over time to manage the emotional reactivity associated with difficult feeling states and think about how to respond.
Taking things out on others suggests that you are easily overwhelmed by difficult emotions or the events that generate these emotions.
In response you try to get rid of the unpleasant feelings by transferring them onto someone else, in this case your boyfriend.
Obviously this is unfair to him and very detrimental to your relationship. It’s not wrong to share difficulties with your boyfriend, that’s what partners do. But to blame him is another thing entirely.
How do you stop doing this?
The key is to practice self-soothing.
Self-soothing involves recognizing when you are becoming reactive and taking steps to calm yourself down. It’s not rocket science, but it takes practice.
The first step is recognizing your physiological responses to stress.
Some people’s breathing gets rapid or shallow. People report feeling hot; muscles generally tense up especially in the neck and chest area. There is no one response; everyone is different; the important thing is learning to recognize your own responses before it’s too late to manage them.
This isn’t a cognitive process. By the time you’ve thought about things you’ll be too reactive to take useful action. This is part of our biological flight or fight response to danger.
It is your responsibility to manage your emotions so that you can decide what, if anything, to do.
Taking things out on your boyfriend isn’t an option. Sometimes there may be a useful course of action for you to take. Are you being harassed at work? What would be a useful way to handle that?
It takes the ability to calmly think about a situation to figure out a course of action.
Sometimes, there’s nothing to be done which is of course frustrating. But being able to tolerate and manage frustration is part of being an adult. Obviously getting mad or frustrated with your boyfriend isn’t going to help resolve anything.
What about talking to your boyfriend about what you’re dealing with and how you’re feeling?
While it’s not his job to solve it, listening is usually part of a good relationship. Being listened to really does help.
The answer to this question is really on you. Nobody can mange your reactivity for you. The sooner you take on the challenge, the better your life will function.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
You may not, except with express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.