The Beginning of Something Else

On June 1, 2007 I found out my husband and partner of almost two decades had been unfaithful to me since before our marriage, and had been having intercourse with prostitutes for 3 1/2 years. This is what happened next.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Blind spots

Couples therapy this weekend offered me another opportunity to see something I didn't know I didn't know.

In my family, people don't take responsibility for their feelings. In my mother's mind, every emotion she has ever felt has been because of somebody else.

What I didn't realize is that when my husband expresses a feeling, I hear two things:

1. I have done something wrong
2. I will be made responsible for his feelings, and making them better, no matter what

As a result, when he is telling me feelings, I respond to 1 and 2 above (what I hear) by getting hurt, angry and defensive. And he feels I angry, alone and resentful because I don't get/hear what he is actually expressing, and is also unaware that I'm responding to 1 and 2 above instead of his feelings.

It's a wonder anyone can communicate at all.

1 comment:

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

It's amazing to me too -- and amazing what we pick up from our parents and incorporate into our own patterns and understandings.

I learned from my parents that I am responsible for other people's emotional states -- and I am responsible for foreseeing and providing for their wants. When my husband asks me a simple question like, "Do we have any more chips?" I immediately get defensive and angry, because I learned from my parents' interactions that it was my job to provide or be blamed.