Are you often disappointed on Valentine’s Day? Do you love the day but your partner hates it?
Jamie and Kurt are a sweet, successful couple in their early thirties. In spite of loving each other deeply, they often find themselves in conflict over seemingly minor issues, as most couples do. Recently, just one week before Valentine's Day, they had a particularly hurtful argument. Jamie had expressed her unhappiness about Kurt's busy schedule and the limited time he finds to spend with her. As usual, Kurt promised to try harder and they got through it. But having not dealt with the real issues at hand, the problem was bound to resurface. Jamie unknowingly began planting the seeds for their next argument when she decided to bring up the subject of Valentine's Day.
"Kurt, I just wanted to remind you that next week is Valentine's Day and it's really important that we plan something special for us."
Kurt took a deep breath and responded, "Jamie, you know I don t really do things like that. I'm not into it."
"Oh come on Kurt. It's really important to me." Nearly pleading, Jamie continued. "When you really love someone, you try to do what is important to them, right? I made the plans last year and now it's your turn. Why don't you surprise me with something really romantic! Okay?"
Silent and distant, Kurt gave a slight nod, which was the assurance Jamie was looking for.
Kurt had agreed to be home by six o clock on Valentine’s Day. By twenty past six, Jamie was anxious. With each glance at the clock, her pacing quickened. At last, Kurt walked through the door looking tense and clutching a bouquet of red roses. Jamie took the roses with a wary smile. Without even so much as a glance, Kurt turned around, got a beer out of the fridge, and sank into the couch, grabbing the remote control. Jamie watched intently, feeling her blood turn to ice.
"That's it?" she asked.
"That's it? It's Valentine's Day!" Jamie's tone grew sharp. "You said you would plan something special and romantic and this is it?" She shook the roses at him in her clenched fist.
"I never said I would do anything," Kurt retorted. "I told you it wasn't my thing."
"Don t lie to me! You nodded yes!"
"No, I didn't. I didn't agree to anything. You always want me to prove that I love you. I hate that! Even if I did want to do something for Valentine's Day, I certainly wouldn't want to after you tell me you expect it!” Sullenly, Kurt turned back to the TV. “You take all the fun out of everything.”
Jamie dissolved into tears. "Well, if you knew how to show me you loved me, I wouldn't have to say anything." Without a word, Kurt turned off the TV and left the house.
Once again, Jamie and Kurt were both feeling unheard and unappreciated, with both blaming each other for their hurt feelings.
In order to understand how things went so wrong, we need to look at the interaction in terms of their INTENTION TO LEARN or their INTENTION TO PROTECT.
Jamie starts out trying to control Kurt by making him feel guilty and responsible for her feelings. Kurt, not wanting to be controlled and not able to communicate how being controlled makes him feel, moves into resistance, which is his form of control. Jamie thinks that laying on more guilt (control) will accomplish her objective to have a romantic Valentine's Day. Since Kurt is frustrated with his inability to express his brewing feelings, he moves into silence (control). Finally, when Kurt comes home late and sits on the sofa, he demonstrates passivity (control) to which Jamie responds with anger (control). Kurt uses more resistance (control) and Jamie uses more anger and guilt (control). Kurt gets defensive (control) and disappears (control). Attack - resist, blame - defend, on and on and on. Sound familiar?
Neither Kurt nor Jamie want to hurt each other. In fact, they both want to connect with each other. Unfortunately, they are not open to learning about their own feelings and behaviors, or each other's. Resorting to controlling behavior keeps them safe and eliminates the need to effectively communicate their fears of rejection and engulfment. Fear is what motivates their intention to control.
Instead of each person taking full responsibility for his or her own happiness and unhappiness, they give that job to each other. Imagine that your feelings are a small child within. Imagine what would happen if you had an actual child that you kept trying to give to others to take care of. That child would feel scared and insecure most of the time. Yet this is exactly what happens when you make others responsible for your feelings - your child within feels scared, insecure, angry, depressed and anxious. It is only when you take responsibility for your own feelings, which you can do through learning and practicing the Inner Bonding process, that you will feel secure enough to give up the need to control.
It would be easy to blame Jamie for their problems - if only she didn't get so needy and angry, everything would be fine. It's just as easy to blame Kurt - if only he was more attentive and caring, then everything would be fine. Yet until both Jamie and Kurt are willing to take responsibility for their own feelings, and until loving themselves and each other is more important than controlling or not being controlled, their fights will continue.
What if Jamie had started with, "Kurt, I love Valentine's Day and you hate it. Can we talk about what would work for both of us?" They likely could have easily resolved the issue. What if Kurt had responded to Jamie's initial controlling statements with caring and openness instead of resistance, such as, "Honey, you know I don't like holidays, so please don't expect me to plan something. Let's talk about how we can make it work for both of us." Either one of them could have moved into an intent to learn and taken responsibility for creating what they wanted.
To begin learning how to love and connect with yourself so that you can connect with your partner and others, take advantage of our free Inner Bonding eCourse, receive Free Help, and take our 12-Week eCourse, “The Intimate Relationship Toolbox” – the first two weeks are free!
Connect with Margaret on Facebook.
This article was originally published at Inner Bonding . Reprinted with permission from the author.