Matt and I were lying in bed the other night talking about some things and then he got angry and told me I have to stop assuming things and then drawing conclusions from my own projections. To be honest, my first reaction was to be defensive, I wanted to line up my army of defence and give him a list of reasons why my assumptions were right even if he had never spoken those words himself. I decided instead to give myself a moment to breathe and ask myself if he was right and if I wanted to be right or I wanted to be connected to him.
Many people think this must come easy because I am a relationship therapist. The truth is, I have to work just as hard at this as anyone else because my own stubborn inclinations is to prove my position. Being right feels good, fighting does not. The other reality is that Matt never did actually say the things I thought he was implying and my projections weren’t an accurate reflection of his feelings at all.
Often in relationships we get caught in really destructive patterns that can lead to a relationship death by 1000 cuts. We get stuck engaging in ways that don’t serve us and that definitely don’t serve the relationship but have a hard time admitting we are wrong because it feels vulnerable. My recommendation is to take some time and see the ways you perpetuate the very problems you complain about. Do you make assumptions all the time and then project them onto your partner? Do you spend the majority of your day talking about what’s wrong instead of ever looking at what you can do differently to improve the relationship? Do you stay quiet instead of sharing your voice and letting your partner know what you are really feeling? Whatever it is, we are all guilty of engaging in unhealthy ways, even those that talk about healthy relationships all day. What changes this pattern, however, is taking the time to recognize what you do, when you are doing it, and then working to change it one step at a time. Nobody is perfect. I assure you there will be times where I forget to take a deep breath and fight tooth and nail to be right at the cost of our connection. But the more times I remember how I really want to be, the more natural that will become and the healthier our relationship will be.
Take a step, for yourself first by creating awareness, and then for your relationship by giving it a try. I assure you, connection always feels better than winning.