I was very confused for most of the last three years of my marriage when our relationship had deteriorated, and I couldn't figure out how to get us back to being the happy couple we used to be.
Today, I realize it was not my sole responsibility to work on our relationship. I just didn't see at the time that he was no longer invested in our marriage. He'd been hiding his multiple affairs over the years, and that corroded his personal integrity. Following the typical behavior of someone who is lying, he projected criticism and anger toward me.
But back then, I questioned myself for feeling hurt by the things he said, and I felt alienated by his choice not to spend time with me.
Have you made excuses for your spouse? He’s just going through stress at work. She had that issue with her sister. He's moody from the knee surgery. She's dealing with a new employee.
How long do we give leniency to our spouse for his or her bad behavior? A week, a month, a year?
We all come in contact with people who may be rude and self-centered, and our internal guidance system is quick to steer us away from them; yet when our spouses behave that way, we are likely to excuse their behavior or assume we did something to cause their harsh words or callous actions.
If you're second guessing yourself and giving your spouse the benefit of the doubt over and over again, here are a few ways you can check back in with your inner wisdom system and learn to trust and honor your feelings:
Acknowledge You Have a Right to Your Feelings
You're too sensitive, is one of the most used deflection mechanisms by partners to shut down any communication. What they're saying is, I'm not going to acknowledge or honor your feelings.
One of the responsibilities of being in a relationship is to communicate in a way that is respectful of one another. If your partner rejects your feelings, that doesn't make your experience wrong; it means they aren't interested in, or capable of, being an equal partner in your marriage.
So don't expect them to change during the divorce. They will become more entrenched in their stronghold position that you are wrong about everything and they are justified in cheating, lying, amassing debt, becoming volatile, walking out, and any other dishonorable behavior.
Detach and Observe
Going into a mode of observation can be very eye-opening. The object is to detach yourself from the emotions by pretending your spouse is a stranger. Look at him or her as if you were meeting for the first time. Imagine you have no history; he or she is completely alien to you. Certainly, you must have thought that on a few occasions; who is this person?
Observe them in a state of neutrality and tune into your observations of the language they choose, the tone and pace of their voice, and if they are allowing you to speak. Are they actually listening, or interrupting you repeatedly?
Trust Yourself and Your Response
You get to decide if and when you want to respond to anyone who says hurtful things; your spouse is not exempt from this boundary. Observe yourself in the situation. Notice any triggered emotions you may sense, quickened heart rate, or old defense mechanisms popping up. Take a breath and speak from the truth of yourself—who knows you are not defined by your partner's cruel words or disapproving tone.
Once you learn how to honor your feelings, you'll be less likely to second-guess yourself. Developing self-trust and feelings of worthiness will help you identify and steer clear of noxious people.
Written by Patty Blue Hayes
Patty Blue Hayes is a divorce survivor. She chronicles the crippling effects of her divorce and the dark days and manic nights in her book "Wine, Sex & Suicide - My Near Death Divorce." Patty is a certified trainer and coach, who shares the tools and techniques that helped her heal her broken heart. You can learn more about Patty Blue Hayes at www.PattyBlueHayes.com.