Allen Berger, Ph.D.
Partner picks fights
What if my partner intentionally picks little fights with me? If you are wondering about whether your spouse is doing things to intentionally upset you or not, I want you to think about this for a minute. See, a lot of times when we’re in a relationship, we start to take things very personally. The more important you are to me, the more I’m going to be reactive to you.
Now, whether that person is doing it intentionally or not, we’ll get to that in a second, because intentionally picks fights with a partner is not such a wonderful quality. However, if you’re taking things personally like this all the time, then you’re always going to feel like whatever they’re saying is to get at you in one way or another. I always tell people, to get more personal you have to stop taking things personally. Let me say that again. To get more personal, you have to stop taking things personally.
Now, you can check it out with them. For example, you can say, “Hey, honey, you know, when you said that? It seems to me like you really wanted some kind of a reaction.” Now, maybe they do. Maybe you’re not reactive to them, and maybe that’s what they’re saying to you. But there are always two messages. There’s what they’re doing and then what their behavior is saying. The more important communication is what their behavior is saying.
So check it out. This is what I’m trying to encourage you to do. See, just because I perceive something a certain way doesn’t mean it’s real. Now, it also doesn’t mean it’s false for me. So, when I turn to my partner, I need to talk to them about it in a way that gives them space, gives them room to be able to interact with me about this. So I could say something like, “Look, hon, when you did that, you know, I started to feel like it was a shot that you were taking at me; that you really want to get me upset about this issue. And, then, I don’t know if that’s really what’s going on between us or not, but that’s how I take it. Can you help me with this in some way? Where were you coming from? I’d like to hear what you meant when you said that. You know, maybe we can discover what the truth is between us.”
So something like that is bringing what’s going on to my partner in a humble way, not from a position of “I know you’re really trying to upset me and how come you’re being so mean and inconsiderate of my feelings”. That’s going to polarize you, and that’s when couples get into trouble. When you polarize with your partner, you’re never going to get anything resolved, and this is one way you can help avoid creating an atmosphere where your mate intentionally picks fights with you.
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