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Negative conflict cycles

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  • #411543
    frozenfireflies
    Participant

    <div data-pm-slice=”1 1 []” data-en-clipboard=”true”>I really dislike my husband’s conflict style and emotional disconnection from me and don’t know what to do. When something (or rather, me) gets on his nerves, he tends to lash out without much warning. He just doesn’t stay calm in these moments. He says he gives warning signals, but often I struggle to catch and act upon them in time (I have ADD). I should also add that he struggles with burnout in different areas – work-related, parental and relationship burnout. He feels he doesn’t get enough time to practice basic self-care. His job doesn’t give him any satisfaction and demands a lot of him, then our oldest child is very attached to him and struggles to leave his side. We don’t have a support network of family and friends. My husband often brings up that he feels unsupported (by me and in general) and needs me to step up more, which I have been doing a lot more recently. I’m more “relaxed” about chores than him, so there are some personality differences and I try everything in my power to respect him and take it seriously. Despite this, I don’t feel that much progress has been made in our relationship… He remains too attacking around other issues.</div>
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    <div>What might be the thing I find most difficult is his conflict style, which is based upon sarcasm and hostility. It doesn’t help that he is often already stressed because of other things, which exacerbates it all. Basically, when we have conflict it’s typically a situation where my husband complains or has a criticism directed at me – which is not unreasonable in itself – but it’s the way he expresses himself that makes me feel hurt and unsafe emotionally. It’s also very often something ABOUT me or how I express myself, like that I’m too stressed or heightened and triggering him, even though my stress has nothing to do with him – sometimes I just have intense emotions about something we discuss. We rarely have arguments about substantial themes and instead it’s conflict about how we communicate rather than a specific issue. When I communicate this to him, it’s just leads to further despair on his end and him feeling unheard. He already feels so frustrated that he doesn’t have any capacity to show compassion. The pain I feel during these “arguments” make it really hard to step away and not become emotionally reactive myself, so I just become part of this communication problem! My husband does acknowledge his part and he apologises, but this never leads to change in the future.</div>
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    <div>My husband feels there has been a severed emotional connection between us for a long time. The problem is that he never seems able to reconnect. Personally I have a strong sense of goodwill and I’m always eager to repair and get intimate again, but my husband stays withdrawn for a while, not wanting sex and such. When he does get more affectionate again, it still feels a bit lacklustre, like it’s never 100%. I miss proper affection and intimacy in our lives, whether it’s kissing, using pet names or expressing feelings of love. If it was up to me I’d kiss him again today, but he doesn’t feel close enough to do that and even when there is progress, something ends up rupturing his feelings again before we finally get there! I can see this spiral going on indefinitely and I’m at my wits’ end. This has become a long-term issue. He doesn’t seem to be in a position where he can foster feelings of romance. I’m trying to help, but it feels like I’m running out of ways to nurture this in him. At the end of the day, it needs to come from himself… We can hardly communicate about anything stressful without him feeling like he needs to get away from me. He also feels like these communication issues ruin the rest of his day once they happen. This has led to a lot of doubt on my part how “bad” I really get, since I’m very much nonviolent in how I open up, but I do sometimes feel like I’m a bit highly strong and nervous. But I don’t go around abreacting or being petty on purpose, so it’s very upsetting that I still affect my husband so negatively. We just feel like we don’t have a way to stop it for good! Neither of us have laidback personalities.</div>
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    <div>Thank you for anyone was has been reading this, I appreciate it.</div>

    #411574
    anita
    Participant

    Dear frozenfireflies:

    When something (or rather, me) gets on his nerves, he tends to lash out without much warning… He says he gives warning signals“- it is not okay for him to lash out at you (or at his children or at anyone else) with or without warning, no matter how stressed he is. He will need to STOP lashing out, to stop automatically reacting this way, and instead, to pause and respond differently.

    He feels he doesn’t get enough time to practice basic self-care“- he’ll need to find the time.

    It’s also very often something ABOUT me or how I express myself, like that I’m too stressed or heightened and triggering him, even though my stress has nothing to do with him – sometimes I just have intense emotions about something we discuss… I do sometimes feel like I’m a bit highly strong and nervous… Neither of us have laidback personalities“- on your part, you will need to keep yourself as calm as possible and/ or to appear as calm as possible when you are around him, because your heightened stress exacerbates his (and the other way around). I don’t mean that you should walk-on-eggshells, as the saying goes, but practice reasonable self-control over the expressions of your intense emotions, nervousness and heightened stress. He needs to do the same.

    I miss proper affection and intimacy in our live“- one thing at a time, I say: first, attend to what I mentioned above. The STESS LEVEL between the two of you has to significantly come down (freeze that fire, so to speak, frozen fire flies), only then there will be a space for affection and intimacy.

    Please let me know what you think of my reply, and if you would like, we can talk further.

    anita

     

    #411680
    Roberta
    Participant

    Dear Frozenfireflies

    Sorry to hear that you and your husband are struggling to connect in a peaceful & positive way. Marshall Rosenberg has written books on non violent communication maybe you could get 2 copies of one of his books that appeals to both of you and then you could both work together & separately, this way it is more of a joint exploring journey.  Thich nat han’s book Silence is also a good read.

    best wishes

    Roberta

     

    #411757
    frozenfireflies
    Participant

    Thank you anita. I agree very much with everything you’ve said. My gut feeling has always been that my husband is too strong when he lashes out. We talked again this weekend and he does agree with me. Our main obstacle seems to be finding ways to effectuate this change. I’m also finding it tough to remain calm and we’re trying to practice with time-outs for 10-20 mins so that we can’t escalate so badly.

    #411758
    frozenfireflies
    Participant

    Thank you Roberta. It really strikes me you mention this book – I have come across the title before, put it on a book list for later and now you remind me of it. I see this as a sign it will be the next book to start reading as I’ll need a new one soon anyway!

    #411762
    anita
    Participant

    Dear frozenfireflies:

    You are welcome. “Our main obstacle seems to be finding ways to effectuate this change. I’m also finding it tough to remain calm and we’re trying to practice with time-outs for 10-20 mins so that we can’t escalate so badly“-

    – there are different online resources in regard to anger management in a marriage. , one of which is the marriage foundation. org/ anger and resentment in marriage. What got my attention here (which I like) is the comparison between anger at one’s spouse and anger at one’s child. It reads in part: “When your children are angry for silly reasons, (e.g. you cut their sandwich the wrong way, or you won’t let them eat dirt, etc.) do you feel like it is ruining your family? Does their anger ruin your day, cause you to resent them, or to close off your heart to them? No, of course not. You simply deal with them lovingly as they work through their own issues…

    “Your job (with your husband) is to be loving. Not a teacher or a disciplinarian as you are with your children. Your role is to understand and support your spouse while they are suffering from and working through their own issue… All criticism, negativity, nagging, and expectations from your side should be non-existent. Only positive and loving words should be expressed, but never to reinforce bad behavior.”

    anita

    #412177
    anita
    Participant

    How are you, frozenfireflies?

    anita

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