Win the Battle, Lose the Love
By Dr Noelle Nelson on June 29, 2011
You throw the credit card bill in the middle of the kitchen table with a victorious flourish. Ta-da! You were right. HE’s the one who maxed out the card. HE’s the one who spent needless dollars on some foolish whats-it that wasn’t in the budget. HE’s the one who puts his selfish needs above the good of the family. HE…well, HE walked out of the room. Fine, who cares. You gloat happily.
Or SHE’s the one who drank all the OJ and didn’t replace it. SHE’s the one who can’t load a dishwasher properly, which even your ten-year old knows how to do. SHE’s the one who forgets to write in appointments on the family calendar. SHE…well, SHE ran crying to the bedroom to call her mother and lament how horrible you are. Fine, who cares. You gloat.
You won the battle. Good for you. You’re well on your way to losing the love, however. Bad for you.
Oh, it feels great to be right, gallop into righteousness, and sling a load of blame at your mate. You feel triumphant, the “good guy” regardless of gender. And indeed, many would take your side and say “You tell ‘em.”
But here’s the problem: you’re a couple, not warring factions. If you want to remain a couple, then issues must be dealt with AS a couple. When you focus on your partner’s shortcomings as something to hit them with, you distance yourself from them in order to blame your spouse: “I’m right, you’re wrong. Nah-nah-ni-nah-nah.”
The more you distance yourself from your beloved, the harder it is to come back together in tender, loving ways. The more often you distance yourself, the more difficult it becomes for them to even summon up the desire to come back together in love and trust.
Oh great, you say, so I should just let him/her get away with all these things they’re doing wrong? Of course not. You’d still have those hurt, angry or irritated feelings which would go unchecked and unresolved – distancing yourself from the love.
The solution is to view your issues as an “us” dilemma, not a “you’re bad/wrong” attack. He maxed out the cards on what you see as a frivolous expense? Sit down together and review the budget. Maybe you forgot to factor in spending money for each of you. Maybe what to you is frivolous is a necessity to him. Talk about it, don’t fight about it. Seek to understand where your mate is coming from rather than bashing him over the head with your supposed superiority. When you come from a place of understanding, or seeking to understand, good things always happen.
She gobbled the OJ, loads the dishwasher differently than you do, forgets to write in appointments? Same drill. Sit down and talk together about how these things impact your together life and brainstorm solutions. Maybe some of it doesn’t really matter. Like the dishwashing issue. Maybe as long as dishes are clean, you can live with it. But more importantly, seek to understand your differences, not kill each other with them.
When you feel a blame-fit coming on, ask yourself: What’s important here? Winning this particular battle? Or keeping our love alive and thriving?
The choice is yours.
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