Talk About Marriage banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
262 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello!

My husband and I have had many difficult years, and after me almost being out the door on many occasions, we're finally understanding each other better and are on a much better track.

However we're still in the healing mode of our relationship, and I'm still having SEVERE issues with his pride. It's causing us problems (and me extreme emotional damage) and it's the one thing he cannot seem to control.

To be fair, I understand men tend to be more prideful. And I take that into account when trying to talk to him (i.e. speaking in words so he doesn't feel criticized/takes steps to let him know I don't think he's wrong in most cases) but he doesn't seem to be taking steps from his side to temper his prideful reactions. I'm just wanting him to meet me halfway and it hurts me that in this area he doesn't seem to even try, and it REALLY is causing me a lot of emotional hurt. I love that now he will validate that hurt....but I'd really rather not feel the hurt in the first place, as it wears on me tremendously.

So I'd love advice, especially from some men; What can I do to reach through his pride to get him to "hear" me when I'm hurting, and what can I suggest to him (he's receptive otherwise) to start recognizing when pride is keeping us from communicating effectively, and to better temper his reactions?

To better illustrate things from my perspective: He's Dr. Jekyll when his pride isn't touched upon, and Mr. Hyde when it is, and it's INCREDIBLY easy to bring out Mr. Hyde. I feel like I have to walk on extreme eggshells to keep the peace, rather than a respectful consideration of his feelings.

I feel this is our next big step to healing, and I desperately want to go there with him. Thanks in advance for the input :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
188 Posts
Are you in or have you tried MC?

Can you give us a few examples of when/how his pride gets hurt?

Since you've "almost been out the door on many occasions" and had many difficult years, it may just be that he has become over sensitive. But without more specifics, it is hard to say.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
262 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Are you in or have you tried MC?
No marriage counseling yet, before when things were really terrible, and I was in the process of distancing myself emotionally from him, we truly could not even afford the babysitting for going to those sessions.

Now money is better, and we agreed if things didn't keep getting better (which has truly been by leaps and bounds) then we would go to MC if things felt "stuck" again. So we're both open to it.

Since you've "almost been out the door on many occasions" and had many difficult years, it may just be that he has become over sensitive.
We've been together 7 years now, and I'd say 6 out of the 7 we've had these problems. The last 4 years have been the worst, and the last 6-ish months we've really flipped things around and things are getting a lot better.

Can you give us a few examples of when/how his pride gets hurt?

It's usually surrounding if I felt hurt by something he did. We both have problems communicating, and his big one was that he has an extreme difficultly listening to me objectively, and validating my my hurt feelings when I needed him to.

He's since become REALLY good at validating my feelings when it has nothing to do with him, but NOT when it comes to anything he may have done. I can mention as non critically/sweetly as possible that I felt hurt from something he said/did, and it will mean instant fight mode for him. He's instantly on the defensive, and says that I'm just wrong about the whole thing. I can even tell him that I understand he didn't mean to hurt my feelings, but it would mean a lot to me if he would care that I was hurt in the first place. He'll instantly start arguing my reasoning for being hurt.

Basically, it's like after all we've learned together, he cannot apply what he's learned when it's about HIM. He even admitted he thinks it's a pride issue, but cannot control his reactions.

I'll try to think of a more specific example and post it too!

Thank you! :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
262 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Book Recommendation: How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Patricia Love

It's not simply pride, it's shame avoidance. Men will go to great lengths to avoid shame in any form.
Thank you, Drover. That's a new term I've never heard (shame avoidance). I truly don't want him to feel ashamed for anything. I just want us to be happy. So anything I can learn to help him in this area would be beneficial.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
262 Posts
Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)

·
Registered
Joined
·
188 Posts
This may sound counter intuitive, it certainly was for me, but it was an on-going exercise our MC had us do. It is letting the other person express themselves and you just listen - you don't respond at all, except maybe to say "OK'. That's it.

As a man, this was EXTREMELY difficult. But it let her express herself - safely, with no backlash and let me listen without having to respond. I wasn't supposed to give a response, so she wasn't expecting one. This also gave me the time to process what she was saying instead of just reacting to it.

And it works both ways - I can express myself "safely" too. And although it sounds simple, it has been hard for me to put into practice - but practice I do. And it really helps both of us.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,104 Posts
I can mention as non critically/sweetly as possible that I felt hurt from something he said/did, and it will mean instant fight mode for him.
I need an example of how you would tell your husband you're hurt. Sometimes just a tweak in the words can make a huge difference.

Right off my bet is you're using too many words in an attempt to sugarcoat it which only enrages him. It's patronizing. State what's wrong DIRECTLY not sweetly in less than 3 sentences then shut up. Don't get sucked into a debate or fight either.

"When you _________ I feel _______.

"I'm not okay with __________"

"I am angry because _________"

Use feeling words, the more vulnerable the better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
262 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
I need an example of how you would tell your husband you're hurt. Sometimes just a tweak in the words can make a huge difference.

Right off my bet is you're using too many words in an attempt to sugarcoat it which only enrages him. It's patronizing. State what's wrong DIRECTLY not sweetly in less than 3 sentences then shut up. Don't get sucked into a debate or fight either.

"When you _________ I feel _______.

"I'm not okay with __________"

"I am angry because _________"

Use feeling words, the more vulnerable the better.
Haha you're right there. This is actually something I've had to battle with myself over the last year. I like to use ALOTTA words!

I will definitely take this into account next time! Thank you! :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,104 Posts
And stop trying to keep the peace. That's a lofty goal but I find that peacemakers generally tend to think of others before themselves and that is counterproductive. The more self love you have the more capacity you have to love others.

You need to know that your feelings matter just as much as his do. If he turns into Dr. Jekyl just because you've calmly stated how you feel without lecturing then that's his problem not yours. Just walk away if he starts that crap. If he gets no payoff for the behavior he will stop it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
231 Posts
CBL, I guess I am confused if you want validation that he is hurting you or if you would rather avoid the situation that causes you hurt to begin with.

I don't think my husband has ever admitted that he hurt my feelings. Lot's of "I was just joking", "Your too sensitive", and "Like I would ever do that." I tried the same thing you tried " I know you didn't mean to but.." and that didn't work in reducing the frequency. The trick with my husband is to make him mindful of what he is saying and doing. The line I recite to him over and over again is "I know that wasn't your intention, but it hurt my feelings. Now that you know it hurts my feelings if you continue to do/say xyz I will assume that you do mean it and I will react accordingly."

This doesn't give him the option of arguing whether or not my feelings are justifiable. They just become a thing that is. It also puts the onus on him to think about what he says and does before doing it. It forces him to think about his reasons and intentions by doing these certain things vs what the outcome may be (which he will often think is minor)

This has helped alot in my marriage although he does still struggle with it from time to time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
262 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
CBL, I guess I am confused if you want validation that he is hurting you or if you would rather avoid the situation that causes you hurt to begin with.

I don't think my husband has ever admitted that he hurt my feelings. Lot's of "I was just joking", "Your too sensitive", and "Like I would ever do that." I tried the same thing you tried " I know you didn't mean to but.." and that didn't work in reducing the frequency. The trick with my husband is to make him mindful of what he is saying and doing. The line I recite to him over and over again is "I know that wasn't your intention, but it hurt my feelings. Now that you know it hurts my feelings if you continue to do/say xyz I will assume that you do mean it and I will react accordingly."

This doesn't give him the option of arguing whether or not my feelings are justifiable. They just become a thing that is. It also puts the onus on him to think about what he says and does before doing it. It forces him to think about his reasons and intentions by doing these certain things vs what the outcome may be (which he will often think is minor)

This has helped alot in my marriage although he does still struggle with it from time to time.
Thanks for all of that, Fledgling!! :D And I'll definitely try that line you use next time. He does have difficulty understanding that something he says to mean one way can sound completely different and hurtful to me. I often say "Please don't say ____ it hurts my feelings" But then he wants to know WHY it hurts my feelings, so I tell him, then he argues my reasoning (which is obviously not what I was looking for, lol).

In the last six months he's grown really good at validation, so I am confident in his abilities there, BUT he will only do it when he's not being "Mr. Hyde" (aka: when he feels his pride poked at) whichis REALLY easy to do.

So I need help 1) finding ways to better talk him down when he gets defensive; and 2) things I can suggest to him to try and temper his reactions from his side.

Once he's my normal honey-buns again he takes tremendous care of my feelings :) But I need the emotional damage caused to me (and our relationship) when he gets defensive/prideful to go away for us to be truly happy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,104 Posts
He does have difficulty understanding that something he says to mean one way can sound completely different and hurtful to me. I often say "Please don't say ____ it hurts my feelings" But then he wants to know WHY it hurts my feelings, so I tell him, then he argues my reasoning.
When you state a boundary (please don't say ____ it hurts my feelings) no explanations are necessary. So the answer to his "why" question is a simple "it just does".

Then stop talking. :D

Do NOT let him suck you into an argument or discussion over why you feel a certain way. It's a trap don't fall into it. You have a right to your feelings and he does not have the right to try to talk you out of them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
262 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
And stop trying to keep the peace. That's a lofty goal but I find that peacemakers generally tend to think of others before themselves and that is counterproductive. The more self love you have the more capacity you have to love others.

You need to know that your feelings matter just as much as his do. If he turns into Dr. Jekyl just because you've calmly stated how you feel without lecturing then that's his problem not yours. Just walk away if he starts that crap. If he gets no payoff for the behavior he will stop it.
Thanks, Mavash. Once again you are right on. I have difficulties in the self confidence department and feeling worthy of good treatment. It's a work in progress, but in the last 6 months I think I'm at least making progress (standing up for myself).

I do realize that he has work to do (and so does he) and I've seen him try SO HARD to get better these last few months, but on this issue he's "stuck" and seems clueless in how to improve in this area. It's incredibly easy to spark a defensive response in him, and once it's sparked, I may as well not exist (or as you suggested, I may as well walk away) because he'll only be out for an argument at that point. I just want to help him/us as much as I can to get past this.

As for walking away, I agree with you that is the best solution, but I have a deep rooted, personal issue in that area, which would take a long time to explain (but basically me walking away could cause us as much damage as me staying and trying to work things out with him) But often staying doesn't work either. In these instances I feel trapped with no way to resolve things happily.

Thanks for your wonderful advice! :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,104 Posts
So I need help 1) finding ways to better talk him down when he gets defensive; and 2) things I can suggest to him to try and temper his reactions from his side.
Your focus is on the wrong person. Stop your part of this unhealthy dynamic and things will change.

It's not your job to talk him down and you have no control over how he chooses to react when you tell him something he doesn't like. You can however refuse to listen to his defenses by standing calm and firm. This works best by talking LESS.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
262 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
When you state a boundary (please don't say ____ it hurts my feelings) no explanations are necessary. So the answer to his "why" question is a simple "it just does".

Then stop talking. :D

Do NOT let him suck you into an argument or discussion over why you feel a certain way. It's a trap don't fall into it. You have a right to your feelings and he does not have the right to try to talk you out of them.
Haha MAN I wish that would work! It SHOULD work, right? :D

Here's the thing with him, I've tried the "It just DOES" line with him many times. I've tried " You don't have to understand why all the time, I just need you to accept that it hurt me and not do it anymore"

NOPE. He'll keep right on doing it. After talking this out with him (when he's calmer/non defensive of course) he says he needs to understand the WHY behind things before he can implement permanent changes in himself. And he argues my reasoning behind my feelings because he wants me to feel better (making me realizing he means no harm, thereby erasing the hurt feelings in the first place). So he actually has good intentions when he does what he does.

That's an issue with us, because he will never fully understand the thinking of a woman, I don't think he can ever fully change (according to his rules for permanent change). He cannot accept "I just feel that way".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
262 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Your focus is on the wrong person. Stop your part of this unhealthy dynamic and things will change.

It's not your job to talk him down and you have no control over how he chooses to react when you tell him something he doesn't like. You can however refuse to listen to his defenses by standing calm and firm. This works best by talking LESS.
You're right of course, I just want to make sure I keep up with my side of things. I am sure I make mistakes all the time too, I don't want to assume he is the only one that needs to change until I eliminate all the things I could be doing/not be doing to help this issue.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
231 Posts
Haha MAN I wish that would work! It SHOULD work, right? :D

Here's the thing with him, I've tried the "It just DOES" line with him many times. I've tried " You don't have to understand why all the time, I just need you to accept that it hurt me and not do it anymore"

NOPE. He'll keep right on doing it. After talking this out with him (when he's calmer/non defensive of course) he says he needs to understand the WHY behind things before he can implement permanent changes in himself. And he argues my reasoning behind my feelings because he wants me to feel better (making me realizing he means no harm, thereby erasing the hurt feelings in the first place). So he actually has good intentions when he does what he does.

That's an issue with us, because he will never fully understand the thinking of a woman, I don't think he can ever fully change (according to his rules for permanent change). He cannot accept "I just feel that way".
My husband often says the same things to me? WHY? It really does not matter why. (For the record I think this is a trap that men lay for themselves. Dollars to donuts if you two had just met and you confided in him that another man was hurting your feelings, he would be able to understand why and empathize with you. So he has no excuse not to understand why other than, as you say, his pride). There are two problems at work here. The first is the original offense that he commits. The second is his attitude about the offense. You want him to stop committing the offense, but you are taking him to task for his attitude about the offense. Does that make any sense? In his job, for instance, he may think that his boss is stark raving mad. But it is not his place to question his boss. He just needs to accept that his boss has his own reasons and do what his asked of him. I have a healthy respect for validation techniques, but validation only means so much if there is no follow through. Understanding is not a requirement. It is not possible to always understand what someone else is thinking. It is possible to understand, and see, that they are hurt. I've also taken to explaining to my husband that it costs him NOTHING to make this change, and yet if he doesn't it always costs me SOMETHING in terms of self-esteem or trust in him.
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top