My Partner Makes Me Feel
My partner makes me feel bad – is easy to think. If you’re like many, your romantic relationship can bring up uncomfortable emotions you’d rather not feel. That’s because your romantic relationship is the primary place where stuff from your attachment history will be activated. Remember that and you’ll feel more empowered.
If you forget that you might trip up and over-simplify things by thinking “my partner makes me feel … ” however you’re feeling. I often hear partners say “my partner does X and that makes me feel Y”. That’s a good start, but don’t end there,believing that your partner’s behaviour is 100% responsible for how you feel.
How you interpret your partner, depends on the attachment lense through which you see them and yourself. When their actions activate your feelings, it gives you the chance to see how you’re viewing them and how your viewing yourself. “I can’t get anything right” “I never get heard”. “No-one supports me”. Those sorts of perceptions need to be seen, known, and felt in order to move forward. So to that extent, you might eventually say thank you to your partner for upsetting you. So you (and they) can grow beyond limiting perceptions.
My partner makes me feel bad (however I feel) – is that true?
Marshall Rosenberg the founder of Nonviolent Communication would say that we’re responsible for what we hear. Read that again. It’s a big shift, so stay with me here. It’s worth it!
My colleague in Germany, Irmtraud Kauschat shared a brief story I like that illustrates this.
What I can do is to contribute to your life with the best intention. Whether I find the happy or miserable trigger button in you with my action, is up to you.
An example: If you visit someone and carry flowers with you as a gift, you expect people to enjoy it. When I did this with my mum years ago, she told me: “Why do you bring flowers? You could have saved your money, our whole garden is full of flowers.”
Only with NVC I realized that she cared about my (financial) wellbeing and as a student I didn’t have much money and she had the idea there had been a lot of other items I could have spent my money on.
That short example shows how Irmtraud was able to sense behind the words/ actions to what her mother was feeling and holding as important/ wanting.
EVERY behaviour is code for trying to meet needs.
In this case the mother’s need to contribute care toward her daughter.
Being able to breathe, pause and listen more deeply, in this way is so vital to loving connectedness. Imagine if Irmtraud had heard her mother’s words as criticism, and gone on to feel guilty, angry or embarrassed — the outcome for the relationship would have been very different.
When we make a negative meaning of the response we get back, we’re missing out on understanding our person better.
Just because you get past thinking “my partner makes me feel how I feel”, doesn’t mean that you don’t address it. But it does mean you’ll come from a more constructive blame-free place.