ADMITTING OUR MISTAKES
In recent posts I have been focusing on outlining essential skills and guidelines that help in discussing and resolving impasses in relationships. As in developing any new skill they require practice. It is likely that you may experience obstacles in using these skills that stem from years of ingrained behavior patterns. If you think about the kinds of problems you experience with your partner, you will probably realize that similar types of problems have gone on in previous intimate relationships, or with family members.
Attempting to create more positive and effective ways of interacting with your partner requires the two of you to work as a couple in recognizing how you each contribute and feed into dysfunctional patterns that end in impasses. It will also take you and your partner working on your own individual issues in order to change defensive, overreactive behaviors. This means being open and honest with yourself in acknowledging when you respond in a negative way. We all have some behaviors, character traits, and emotionally sensitive issues that get in the way of communicating clearly and effectively.
We need to acknowledge the blocks we bring to our relationships in order to improve them. This means being more open to admitting when you make a mistake. We are all human and it is common, maybe even inevitable, that we are going to misunderstand, jump to an assumption, let down, disappoint, and be out of touch with our partners at times. Being able to admit to your husband or wife that you just shut them up by yelling, or cut them off by interrupting, or you assumed what they were going to say and weren’t really listening, is actually a great relief. Usually when you acknowledge and apologize for making a mistake your partner will forgive you and the tension becomes defused.
It is just as important that you recognize for yourself when your own fears, defensive reactions, and impulsive behaviors are getting triggered. It is always easier to say to yourself that when your wife gets stubborn it makes talking with her futile and that is why you walk away from her. It is more difficult, but much more empowering, to recognize that you can be impatient when other people disagree with you, and that you have difficulty tolerating your feelings of frustration during a discussion. When you acknowledge your own issues, your partner’s behavior gets less irritating. All of a sudden your wife doesn’t seem so stubborn as much as she is sticking up for herself, just as you stick up for yourself. And maybe she is a little stubborn, but so are you, and you can cut her a break. Maybe you won’t judge her so much from now on because you realize she is entitled to make mistakes, just as you are.