Do your attempts to communicate with your husband
often descend into a ‘blame game?’ You start out with the best intentions of having a grown up, mature conversation, but your valiant efforts soon dissolve into a childish tit-for-tat.
No sooner have you broached the topic you want to discuss when he begins to criticise you, perhaps for the things you ‘always’ or ‘never’ do.
Maybe he accuses you of ‘always’ doing what you want and ‘never’ taking his views on board. Or perhaps it’s that you ‘never’ listen to him. There may be a familiar script that plays out during these conversations.
Immediately you feel compelled to defend your corner and refute his accusations. You feel unfairly attacked; his criticisms are personal and hurtful. So, in the midst of your defence, you lob a few verbal missiles his way to see how he likes it.
Before you know it, the conversation has become nothing more than an unhelpful, heated exchange where neither of you feels heard and nothing gets resolved. Afterwards, you’re left exhausted, frustrated and defeated, thinking it’s pointless even trying to communicate with him when it’s always to the same end.
Does this sound familiar?
Here’s the thing. The reason your husband’s personal attacks on your character trigger you emotionally is because some part of you believes that what he is saying is true.
If no part of you believed there was truth in his criticisms, they wouldn’t bother you. They would simply wash over you. Of course you may know logically that the things he accuses you of aren’t true, but the limiting beliefs that have been triggered don’t respond to logic.
As I discussed in my recent blog article Your Marriage is a Mirror, your husband is simply mirroring back to you the false beliefs you hold about yourself.
So, what can you do to break this stalemate? How can you create constructive and compassionate communication instead of trading insults and accusations?
The first and most important step is becoming aware of what is really going on.
Up until now, your brain has been running an automatic thinking pattern based on unconscious beliefs and you have been reacting to those.
This awareness alone will help you begin to break the pattern of associating with and negatively reacting to these beliefs.
Here is a simple but powerful 7-Step process to let go of the criticism and pave the way for conscious communication that leads to positive outcomes:
- Write down a list of the beliefs your husband has adopted about you that cause conflict in your conversations, i.e. the familiar things he says to you and about you in these scenarios.
- Notice that you get triggered when he vocalises these beliefs because some part of your believes they are true – he is simply mirroring these beliefs back to you.
- When you have completed your list, read through it and really see it for what it is – a list of optional thoughts that your husband has chosen to adopt into his belief system. They are not facts and his opinion does not make them true.
- The next time this comes up in conversation and your husband tells you, for example, ‘You’re so selfish’ notice your brain reacting to this and consciously choose not to believe it. Choose to hear what you husband is really trying to say to you beneath the criticism.
- Give your husband permission to have his own beliefs, opinions and judgements about you. Understand that only you get to decide what is true about you and therefore you have nothing to defend.
- Your husband doesn’t have to like or agree with all aspects of who you are. When there is some truth in what he is saying, you can decide if you want to ‘own’ it and be okay with the fact he doesn’t like/approve. There is power in ‘owning’ all aspects of your personality, because you will no longer have the need to deny or defend those parts.
- You may sometimes choose to adapt your behaviour based on your husband’s feedback. How will you know when it’s appropriate to do so? Check in with yourself about what feels true for you – and use that as your internal compass, not your husband’s opinion.
Bonus Step 8: Go through the above exercise again, but this time identify the limiting beliefs YOU hold about your husband! Put yourself in his shoes and imagine how he feels when he believes he is being unfairly judged by you. Notice what happens in your conversations when you let go of your opinions and judgements about him.
I would love to know how you find this exercise when you get the opportunity to try it out. If you feel inclined, please share your thoughts in the comments below or email me at Julie@JulieMarah.com.
You can find further tips on how to improve communication in your marriage in this article.
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