“Let me tell you how defective you are” is a strategy that will yield a disconnection. Whereas, “here is what I need from you” lends itself to connection and communion in marriage.
In domestic abuse counseling, couples find that the former is a relationship compromiser and the latter is a relationship enhancer. And learning this lesson is transformational to the individuals, as well as to the relationship.
Let Me Tell You How Defective You Are
Think about it. When your partner comes up to you and unloads his/her perception of how you are inadequate, incomplete, deficient, somehow other than they would be or do in similar circumstances, then what happens?
Disconnection happens. The person with the so-called feedback may momentarily feel good because they expressed themselves. But before you know it, the disconnect rushes in severing the two people. Why?
The person on the receiving end of this encounter feels judged, criticized, reprimanded, devalued… They hear their partner’s commentary as telling them how inadequate, deficient, defective, less than, and the list goes on…as do the hurt and angry feelings.
The last thing this person wants to do is embrace their partner’s commentary. To the contrary, they seek to run. They reflexively pull back and disconnect from the encounter. Self-preservation takes over and their guard steps in while combat brews… As an outsider looking in, it is obvious why this resulting relationship conflict ensues.
Here Is What I Need from You
Now, let’s rewind the encounter and play it back…this time injecting the vital missing piece and eliminating the part that got this couple into trouble.
Or, shall I say the part that nets them a disconnection in their interaction.
First of all, the obvious missing piece in an interaction like this is what the person giving the commentary needs. The “let me tell you how defective you are” approach fails to identify what the person expressing the negative commentary is really seeking from his/her partner. All it offers is his/her judgments, critique and ridicule.
When the person looks within for that which they want from their partner, what springs forward is an unmet need longing to be filled. Satisfying their need trumps spewing derogatory commentary.
And the judgments…are really their own projections which truly come from within. Now that doesn’t mean that what they see in their partner is not true. It might be. But, that “truth” has nothing to do with the person giving the commentary getting their needs met.
Less War; More Love
When we leave the judgments out of the equation and focus on what we long to receive from our partner, then we open the door for connection and the continuation of the interaction. Sharing the request invites having the unmet need satisfied.
And the best part is…no one is hurt. No one is diminished. Rather, the relationship is enhanced as the people become fulfilled.