Sunday, July 5, 2009

Defending Yourself or the Relationship

argumentImage by Robert in Toronto via Flickr


One of the biggest barriers to communication is the need to defend one's self to one’s partner. It is important to feel accepted for who you are, but acceptance does not mean that your partner sees you as perfect. It is unrealistic to expect your partner to only see your good qualities and to ignore undesirable qualities.

Instead of defending yourselves, try listening to your partner’s feedback. Listening does not imply agreeing with your partner’s viewpoint, only attending to your partner's viewpoint and feelings. The best you can do by defending yourself is to say, "I'm a good fellow/gal." On the other hand, listening provides you with the opportunity of growing closer to your partner. You can defend yourself or your relationship. I'm sure you know a divorced couple who are each quick to defend themselves despite their marriage's failure.

After you have listened to your partner’s point of view, then he or she will be better able to listen to your point of view. You will determine that being right or wrong is not the issue. Instead, you will find you have different viewpoints that each need to be respected.

You may find this to be more difficult because every criticism feels like an attack on your personal worth. Ask yourself whether your sensitivity indicates low self-esteem. Low self-esteem suggests that you are responding to messages you received in the past, probably from your parents. Children who are frequently criticized can end up being defensive spouses who create distance from their partner by constantly defending themselves. Individual or couples therapy can help you to address these deeper issues.




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