Type your health question here. Get expert advice.
Ask health and wellness questions and get free answers from top experts and other women who've been there. Click "ask" and your question is associated with your username. Click "ask secretly" and your question is anonymous.
Michelle Brock(Certified Life Coach & Hypnotist)answered(8/12/2012)I would start by taking your irritation over the situation out of it. It is really important to understand that a dynamic like this has two players. You cannot control him or her, but you can control what you are feeding into it. I don't know the specifics of your situation, but this kind of thing can go something like this: your significant other complains that they don't like it when you sit like that, or when you leave your toothbrush out. Or with others, like when they tell you that they hate it when your mother uses "that voice", or their secretary at work chews gum loudly at her desk, or whatever it is that bothers them. And then you, in response, get upset. Maybe you feel sorry for yourself that nothing you do is ever right, or that they are never happy and that you have to hear all of this negativity all of the time. Try to take yourself out of it for a bit, and try to become objective in order to understand him or her. Why do they have these pet peeves? Are they, in general, just a negative person? Are they a control freak? Does picking on other people and situations make them feel less fearful? Or superior? Or, are they unhappy about something else or their life situation that they feel can't be changed or feel helpless about, and so they take it out on you and others? Take the emotion out of it and try to see your significant other differently, for who they are underneath the mask. And then, when you approach them, try not to blame them, but rather show them that you are a partner who truly understands them and has compassion for them. Whether or not they choose to let you in will be totally up to them, but at least you will know that you did your half as best you could.
Stephen Snyder, MD(Sex and Relationship Expert)answered(8/10/2012)Tell them that you'd really like it if they'd speak more positively. That gives them the message in as positive a way as possible, which is what you're trying to show them.
Stephen Snyder, MD(Sex and Relationship Expert)answered(8/12/2012)MIchelle's comment reminded me of a near-universal phenomenon in couples -- becoming sensitized to each other's habits, so that one partner's very small gestures or acts start to prompt huge emotional responses from the other.
These inordinate responses also commonly happen with regard to the actions of one's children and even pets. I recall in childhood a friend's family became obsessed by the supposedly negative behavior of the family dog -- which not living in the house, I couldn't figure out exactly what the dog was doing wrong.
In couples, these reactions are frequently projections of something in one's own inner world -- for example, having grown up criticized for being messy and having succeeded in becoming neat to please one's parents, one feels especially horrified at one's partner's messiness. Criticizing the messy partner, one experiences a secret hit of pleasure, consciously or unconsciously thinking "Thank G-d it's not me!"
What to do about it? Short of undergoing intensive psychotherapy, what's left is to realize that this kind of thing is universal and to strive to maintain a sense of humor about it. Humor definitely helps. A lot!
More On ChickRx:
KristenCanswered(8/24/2012)I completely agree with all of the above. My boyfriend is the same way--but I've found all he really wants is for me to listen to his feelings, ask questions about why it bothers him and help him process it, and eventually, make him laugh about it. It's all about communication and hearing each other.