Have you ever been hurt by a passing comment from your significant other and not been able to figure out why? Hurt feelings are never fun, but this moment of confusion actually gives you a golden opportunity to identify your emotional needs and this can be helpful for you and your man. In fact, just yesterday an innocent question from my husband stopped me in my tracks.
The kids had gone to bed and my husband and I were catching up on our days. I was describing another child’s behavior to my husband, amazed at what a contrast this child’s behavior was to that of my daughter when she was two years old. You see, we had some VERY terrible twos with her and this other child is very mild-mannered. I explained that the difference in their demeanors was interesting to me and really goes to show the spectrum of difficulty that exists with raising children.
“So is that a parenting thing?” my husband asked.
Feelings of guilt and blame washed over me. I felt incredibly hurt and I told him so. He apologized with all the right words but the wrong tone. I was unreasonably upset, completely uninterested in sex, and fighting back tears.
While my husband took a shower, I contemplated what was really going on inside of me. I knew I was hurt, but why was I THIS hurt? He had apologized, but he didn’t get it. Can’t I just chalk that up to his struggle with empathy and my unreasonableness and move on? I knew he wasn’t trying to hurt me with it. What was so upsetting about this comment?
After taking some time to think it through, I realized that, “So is that a parenting thing?” translated in my mind to, “Her behavior was most likely your fault.” He blames me!? He thinks I’m a terrible mother!
You see, being a mother is the most important thing I’m going to do with my entire life. I feel the weight of that every day, and I take the role seriously. Life with my 2 year old was miserable. She fought me tooth and nail on every little thing. And the SCREAMING! Oh my gosh! I love my daughter dearly, but her behavior drove me insane. There were days my husband came home to me curled up in the fetal position on the couch because I just couldn’t take anymore. I asked advice from every mom I could and read a zillion parenting books. I tried everything I thought might work, as well as some things I didn’t just for the heck of it. We tried everything to make it better, but she threw a wrench in every system. I was desperate and miserable for a year with her.
My husband’s passing comment revealed to me that I have a NEED to know that my husband thinks I’m a good mom. I need his support because I question myself as a mom every day at least once. As I relayed this to him through sobs, his frustrations calmed and he responded, “I think you’re a great mom! I probably don’t tell you that enough, but when I look around at everyone else I think to myself, ‘Ya, I got the best one.’” More crying. (For the record, I certainly don’t think I’m the best mom out there, but I’m glad he does!)
I’ve heard from a couple of relationship experts that it’s really important in a disagreement to stop and reflect on your own personal need that’s being threatened. It worked well for me here. I was upset because a need wasn’t being met. Once I realized that, I was able to talk to him about it. I now understand that I am supported in the way I need to be from him. He also learned that I might need to hear some affirming words more often.
Try reflecting on your needs. It’s always good when we can examine ourselves instead of jumping straight to blaming someone else.