DOES YOUR TALK PARTNER HAVE DEAD EARS?
“It’s all about you!” repeatedly calls out a crazy driver on the two-way talk highway as he runs you off the road into a ditch again and again. “That’s not what I meant to say!” is a sign that communication has become a battle zone. Of course, “You’ve ruined everything we once had!” may not be crazy or even mixed up. I-types, or Instigator-type communicators, are very strong-willed and strong-minded natural problem solvers. When there is a war of wills, with battling instead of communicating, the bridge of interpersonal trust is blown up…with no real winners in the circle and few or no materials available to rebuild the bridge.
THE STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMEL’S BACK, or WHY CAN’T WE FIX OUR RELATIONSHIP?
One partner cried out, “It isn’t working, and it never will!” “Why can’t we fix our relationship?” bellows the opposite partner. Well, your relationship may not be “fixable.” One client put it this way during a couples’ session:
Why doesn’t our relationship get any better? How much therapy, church, or other avenues of self-improvement can really help you? It’s so hard to believe anything that comes out of your mouth. You can’t have a good time, and you get angry so fast, then you leave psychic bodies strewn all around. How come you’re not proud of yourself and your family? I can’t conceive how someone can be that delusional. You live in your own world which can’t, or won’t, include me. It’s difficult for you to find the good in anything.
If you’re battling with anyone, God — or Goddess — is giving you a wake up call.
THAT’S NOT WHAT I SAID…
Over half the time, relationship communications coaching works really well. But sometimes a relationship isn’t going to get any better. How do you know? When you hear, “I can’t live my life like this. I’m an optimist who tries to focus on the positive, but I’m feeling so down and blue.”
Read on for private client quotes as to the causes that make an Empathizer or Instigator partner feel frustrated, worried, and depressed, when relationship communication strategies just aren’t working:
1. LAZINESS. No efforts were made for years. You screwed up a good thing, and created much of this scene yourself. I have to take care of you, and I work far harder at it than you do. You expect me to take care of all the problems you create.
2. LIES. “Everything was my fault!” is the way the focus is flipped back on me. I thought I was going crazy. Now I have difficulty believing a word that comes out of your mouth.
3. UNCHANGING. You’ve made no sincere efforts to change. I give you feedback which could help the situation, but it’s like talking to a wall. It’s easy to blame everyone else for your problems, but we are grasping at straws this time.
4. DICTATING. I’m not going to be afraid of loss, or your threats, and I’m not going to be told what to do. Why do you always make me out to be the bad guy? It’s emotional blackmail!
5. EXCUSES. I’m tired of making excuses and covering up for you.
6. DEAD EARS. I just don’t think you get it. You turn everything around and twist the truth to focus the blame on me. You don’t hear what you don’t care to hear.
7. RANTING AND RAVING. When you get mad, you cut others off at the knees and leave psychic bodies strewn all around.
8. DISTORTION. When confronted, you say, “That’s not what I said or meant!” or you deny allegations to the hilt, even when they’re supported by evidence. I always have to weigh what you say against the reality of what you will do. I am learning to hate second-guessing myself. I shouldn’t have to second-guess myself!
9. LIVING IN LOSS. I can’t live the rest of my life this way. I’m at a loss for words much of the time. I feel like you’re not going to come to my aid, and I feel lost and lonely, without family and friends.
10. BETRAYAL. You used to like the strength of my character, but as I grew as a person, you didn’t want an equal partner who would work with you. Trying to convince me that I’m some kind of statistic or dysfunction won’t brainwash or beat me into resignation. I will not sit home and allow you to dominate my will. I won’t let others think you are something you’re not.
11. ROADBLOCKS. You throw so many roadblocks between us. You’re making it all about you, rather than thinking about my needs. Are you trying to scare me into staying with you, by saying that the end result means that our relationship is terminated? Why do you want to live with someone who doesn’t want to be with you? Why do you start with a conflict 15 minutes before I have to leave for work? Is it because you know I — we — won’t have time to resolve the dispute before I leave, and that it will weigh heavily on my mind all day?
12. COWARDICE. You act like the cowardly lion. You even believe your own lies! You’ve created an “I-Me-Mine World,” and you want everyone to live in your fantasy. I just can’t continue this way any longer.
13. ENERGY. Being with you causes a tremendous drain of my energy, like a hole in my car’s gas tank leaking fuel. You try to manipulate me into thinking what you want me to think. I’m just too tired to go on like this….
14. MISERY. You say you love me, but you act as though you don’t even like me. I would be miserable if I chose to live with someone who doesn’t like me. You don’t like that I make money, have numerous friends, am involved in the community, go on missionary trips. What you like is that someone has been there to take care of your financial needs.
15. LESSER PERSON. If I continued in this oppressive relationship, I would become a bitter person, and I wouldn’t be the best person I can be.
Many unnecessary losses are inflicted by our own hands. If you’re digging a hole, put your shovel down and look around for help.
WHEN THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD
In distressed relationships, it feels like you’re going insane due to all the crazy talk. Crazy talk is talking about a romantic fantasy of how you wish things would be, versus the hard reality of how things really are. Stop second-guessing yourself. You didn’t get where you are in life by making bad choices. You can’t win in this relationship, and you want to become a better, not bitter, person.
ABOUT COMMUNICATIONS PSYCHOLOGIST DENNIS E. O’GRADY, PSY.D.
Dennis O’Grady is the father and developer of the innovative Talk to Me© effective communication system, which streamlines communication to be productive and useful, inside your head and inside your relationships. Although negative relationships and communication accidents plague us all, the Talk to Me© approach to good communication will help boost your mood, keep your energy up, and free you from the tar baby of negative relationships and emotions.