This is a guest post by Wyatt Fisher Psy.D. More about Wyatt at the end of the post
Conflict, tension and miscommunication are common in marriages.
In order to break the cycle of hurt and anger, it’s important for couples to learn how to work through these experiences.
One of the best ways to move your heart from anger towards forgiveness is discerning how you contributed to your partner hurting you.
How we contribute to the wound
I was meeting with a married man several years ago and he was expressing how hurt he was that his wife continually criticized him and seemed to overreact to his clutter in their house.
He was consumed with how much her hurtful words injured him.
Now, it’s true she could have expressed her frustration more effectively, in a less attacking and critical way.
However, upon talking with his wife, it turns out she had repeatedly asked him through the years to pick up his clutter politely and he would often dismiss her request and not do it.
Therefore, she began feeling unheard and dismissed, eventually leading to frustration and critical words.
Once the husband was able to see how his behavior of not sensitively respecting her need for organization made her feel devalued and how those feelings led to her critical spirit, his anger towards her behavior substantially decreased.
Moving forward, they both had important lessons to implement.
She needed to make a concerted effort to express her frustrations in more gentle, non aggressive ways and he needed to respond and follow through on her desire for more organization in their shared living space.
Who is fueling the flame?
So often people become hyper focused on how their partner has mistreated them they fail to see how they may have contributed to the mistreatment.
To clarify, this isn’t referring to any form of verbal, physical, or sexual abuse which is never excusable regardless if one party is provoking the other or not.
Marital conflicts are almost always a cycle of two people fueling the flame. (Click to Tweet)
Therefore, being able to discern how your behavior influenced your partner responding in a way that hurt you is crucial.
Moreover, this principle is Scriptural where we must first look at our own flaws before focusing on our partner’s.
Mathew 7:3 says
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye”
The next time you are feeling hurt, frustrated, or offended by your partner, start by analyzing how you may have contributed to the cycle.
Question – What do you feel makes people over-focus on their partner’s flaws while under-focusing on their own? What would help this? Please share in Comments