Here’s a relationship question from a reader:
“My husband makes plans without even telling me. Sometimes it’s something he wants me to do with him and he tells me at the last minute, but most of the time it’s something he does with his friends, or working out.He just does it, and then I ask him where he was and that’s when I find out. What do I do to make him stop this? I’m so pissed at him. And then he gets mad at me for being upset. Arlene.”
Arlene – the first thing I have to do is ask you to ask yourself a question…
My question for you would be “how does that make you feel?” when he doesn’t consult you before making plans with the guys.
(That I’m not important – it makes me pissed and upset.)
So the “I’m not important,” I think is a feeling that you’re having. The pissed and upset is the anger that’s growing out of that
I would take a look at the initial cause of the anger.
The cause of the anger is that you feel like you’re being treated like you’re unimportant, and that’s what you have to communicate.
Anger can mask a lot of different reasons. You can be angry for a lot of different reasons – its kind of a big blanket reaction.
But there’s usually before the anger, something that happened that’s triggered that anger – you feel like you’ve been treated rudely so you get angry, or you feel like you’ve been ignored so you get angry, or you feel unimportant so you get angry.
And the key to this really is to communicate that feeling underneath that initial reaction, that triggers the anger.
So my advice to you would be to take a look at each of these situations as they unfold and try to figure out what is underneath the anger that’s triggering the anger – and that’s what you would communicate.
Now the challenge for you, I would imagine, and for most of us actually, is that even when we understand our initial trigger, which in this case is a feeling that “I’m unimportant to you” we rush into the anger.
And its very difficult to communicate that initial trigger the feeling of unimportant without coating it in anger.
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And that’s going to be the skill that you need to develop in order to communicate in a more clean way – instead of spewing your anger, which I’m in no way suggesting you’re not entitled to, just that its not helpful if what you’re looking for is a way or technique to communicate with your husband, or a man you’re in a relationship with.
So what you want to communicate is the initial feeling – “I want to share something with you sweetheart – what I want to share with you is that when you make plans with your guy friends without talking to me first I feel unimportant to you.” End of sentence.
Now the problem, what’s going to happen the first time you do that is, he’s going to get very defensive, most likely.
Especially if you don’t have a track record as a couple in communicating this way.
And the trick for you is to stay with your feeling – to stay with expressing your feeling as you’re feeling and not talking about it in blame language.
In other words, he’s going to come back to you and say “well that’s just not true, you know that I care about you.”
And then you’re going to have to avoid getting into a “well if you cared about me then you wouldn’t…” which is a common outgrowth of the anger reaction
You might have to say “I understand that you feel that way and when that happens I still feel unimportant.”
Jeffrey Levine is a corporate coach and trained mediator (and Rori Raye’s husband) who works with both men and women to improve their communication, deepen their connection and remove the blocks that keep them from feeling and expressing love. He is the author of “How To Talk To A Man”, which contains invaluable advice, tools and solutions to help you avoid common relationship pitfalls, and clean things up when they go south. “Every moment presents a new choice for you: a decision about what you want – and what you believe you deserve.”