In the last post, we got a small insight into why couples hurt each other. Based on that we will go deeper into the topic. I will analyze common arguments and show you the true intention of the words. In addition, how men and women differ in their understanding. Let us dive into this with – Why do couples hurt each other – Part II.
Secrets about why couples hurt each other
Men and Women commonly argue about money, sex, decisions, scheduling, value, child-rearing, and household responsibilities. These discussions and negotiations, however, turn into painful arguments – and the only reason – is we are not feeling loved. Emotional pain comes from not feeling loved. And when we do not feel loved it is more difficult to be loving.
The Secrets Reasons Men Argue
Conflicting ideas, feelings, and desires are difficult challenges for a man. The closer he is to his partner, the harder it is to deal with disagreement and differences. When his partner expresses what they do not like about him, he takes it personally and he feels not being loved. A man can handle differences and disagreements best when his emotional needs are being fulfilled. Is this the reason why men can handle difficult discussions after every meal and after sex? Maybe?
When a man starts arguing, secretly he may be arguing for some of the following reasons:
|The hidden reason he is arguing||What he needs not to argue|
|"I don't like it when she gets upset over the smallest things I do or don't do. I feel criticized, rejected, and unaccepted."||He needs to feel accepted just the way he is, Instead he feels she is trying to improve him.|
|"I don't like it when she starts telling me how I should do things. I don't feel admired. Instead I feel like I am being treated like a child."||He needs to feel admired. Instead he feels put down.|
|"I don't like it when she blames me for her unhappiness. I don't feel encouraged to be her knight in shining armor."||He needs to feel encouraged. Instead he feels like giving up.|
|"I don't like it when she complains about how much she does or how unappreciated she feels. It makes me feel unappreciated for the things I do for her."||He needs to feel appreciated. Instead he feels blamed, unacknowledged, and powerless.|
|"I don't like it when she worries about everything that could go wrong. I don't feel trusted."||He needs to feel trusted and appreciated for his contributions to her security. Instead he feels responsible for her anxiety.|
|"I don't like it when she expects me to do things or talk when she wants me to. I don't feel accepted or respected."||He needs to feel accepted just the way he is. Instead he feeels controlled or pressured to talk and thus has nothing to say. It makes him feel that he can never satisfy her.|
|"I don't like it when she feels hurt by what I say. I feel misstrusted, misunderstood, and pushed away."||He needs to feel accepted and trusted. Instead he feels rejected and unforgiven.|
|"I don't like it when she expects me to read her mind. I can't. It makes me feel bad or inadequate."||He needs to feel approved of and accepted. Instead he feels like a failure.|
Fulfilling a man’s primary emotional needs will diminish his tendency to engage in hurtful arguments. Did you ever see a man arguing after he ate? Me neither. Automatically he will be able to listen and speak with much greater respect, understanding, and caring. In this way arguments, differences, opinions, and negative feelings can be resolved through a proper conversation without escalating into hurtful arguments.
The Secrets Reasons Women Argue
Women also contribute hurtful arguments but for different reasons than men. On the surface, women are arguing about finances, responsibilities, or other issues. But secretly inside women are resisting their partners for the following reasons.
|The hidden reason she is arguing||What she needs not to argue|
|"I don't like it when he minimizes the importance of my feelings or requests. I feel dismissed and unimportant."||She needs to feel validated and cherished. Instead she feels judged and ignored.|
|"I don't like it when he forgets to do the things I ask, and then I sound like a nag. I feel like I am begging for his support."||She needs to feel respected and remembered. Instead she feels neglected and at the bottom of his list of priorities.|
|"I don't like it when he blames me for being upset. I feel like I have to be perfect to be loved. I am not perfect."||She needs him to understand why she is upset and reassure her that she is still loved and that she doesn't have to be perfect. Instead she feels unsafe to be herself."|
|"I don't like it when he raises his voice or starts making lists of why he is right. It makes me feel like I am wrong and he doesn't care about my point of view."||She needs to feel understood and repsected. Instead she feels unheard, bullied, and pushed down.|
|"I don't like his condescending attitude when I ask questions about decisions we need to make. It makes me feel like I am a burden or that I am wasting his time."||She needs to feel that he cares about her feelings and respects her need to gather information. Instead she feels disrespected and unappreciated.|
|"I don't like it when he doesn't respond to my questions or comments. It makes me feel like I don't exist."||She needs to feel reassured that he is listening and that he cares. Instead she feels ignored or judged.|
|"I don't like it when he explains why I should not be hurt, worried, angry, or anything else. I feel invalidated and unsupported."||She needs to feel validated and understood. Instead she feels unsupported, unloved, and resentful.|
|"I don't like it when he expects me to be more detached. It makes me feel like it is wrong or weak to have feelings."||She needs to feel respected and cherished, expecially when she is sharing her feelings. Instead she feels unsafe and unprotected.|
Though all these painful feelings and needs are valid they are generally not dealt with and communicated directly. Instead, they build up inside and come bursting up during an argument. Sometimes they are directly addressed, but usually, they come up and are expressed through facial expression, body posture, and tone of voice.
The difference in how we value hurt
When I dated my last girlfriend 3 years ago, I can remember one specific hurtful moment. As the firstborn in a Vietnamese family, I have many responsibilities. Doing the paperwork for both my parents and was able to help my two younger brothers. Most of the time, I was overloaded with work and stress. As a result, I procrastinate on important work from my parents. As a side effect, I let my life slide a lot. I developed the skill to lie to someone in the face instantly without any trace of lying. This habit I took into my relationships as well. I lied about minor, unimportant things. However, I lied to my girlfriend as well. So that it could destroy my relationship.
I do not know actually what I lied about. For me, it was not a big issue. And I meant it. When my then-girlfriend found out I lied, she was angry. Of course, who wouldn’t be angry? Instead of apologizing and making it up, I talked down her feelings. I told her: “Don’t be upset?! It is nothing to be angry about. It is a small lie. Who cares anyway?”
As you may assume, she broke down in anger and worse in sadness. She cried. She just sat in the bathroom and cried. I was confused because I did not realize how a small thing could break her down that much. But she cried, and shouted at me how a hurtful asshole I am. Instead of snapping back, I stood calm and look at her face. It was not the sadness I used to see. This sadness of her was special. She cried because I hurt her like I would hurt her physically.
Most men would start and argue if their partner shouts at them. But I did not. Moreover, since this moment, I haven’t forgotten it. And this is one of the memories which prevent me to get back to seriously dating again.
The Anatomy of an Argument:
A hurtful argument has basic anatomy. Maybe you are familiar with it.
- A woman expresses her upset feelings about “XYZ”.
- A man explains why she shouldn’t be upset about “XYZ”.
- She feels invalidated and becomes more upset. Furthermore, she is more upset about being invalidated than “XYZ”.
- He feels her disapproval and becomes upset. He blames her for upsetting him and expects an apology before making it up.
- She apologizes and wonders what happened and the argument escalates into a battle.
With this insight, we now understand that all argument starts with a guy upsetting his partner. When a woman would become upset, men should learn to listen first. Then genuinely try to understand what she was upset about. And then to say, “I am sorry that I upset you when I said __.” Immediately, we will argue much less.
However, apologizing is very difficult. Especially for men. Men apologize when they have done something wrong. And upsetting the partner does not seem to be wrong. Because we, men, do not understand how we possibly hurt people with words. When harsh words and comments are part of men’s social life. Furthermore, when men say something it upset their partners, men do not see their mistakes. It is not our fault that you feel upset. This is the general thought of a man, reacting to a women’s upset.
First aid when couples hurt each other
“I am sorry”, means two different things. For men, it means, “I have done something wrong.” Making someone upset does not fall into this category. In the world of men, there is no apology for harsh behavior. For women, however, “I am sorry” has a different meaning. It is a way to say: “I care about what you are feeling.” And this is a breaking point. Every time, a woman is upset by something men talk or do. Men should apologize immediately.
Most arguments escalate when a man begins to invalidate a woman’s feeling and she responds to him disapprovingly.
First aid: to avoid painful arguments it is important to recognize how men unknowingly invalidate. And how women unknowingly send messages of disapproval.
Summary – Why do couples hurt each other – Part II
Looking back, I also could prevent a ton of pointless fights. But I did not know any better. Because of my lack of knowledge, I hurt the most important person in my life, my girlfriend. Soon after, I saw her cry, I realize something. When I saw her in such agonizing pain, it hurt me, as well. When I loved her, isn’t she part of me? And didn’t I want the best for a part of me? Why do I hurt a part of me then? Realizing this, makes me understand that hurt, no matter how small or big, can be a crushing blow to my girlfriend.
For the men, try to learn from my mistakes and adopt my view on hurting your partner.
Being in a relationship is a lot of work. It costs time and even more effort. Some may feel a relationship is pointless. But only when couples hurt each other, do relationships become a problem. As long as you can prevent arguing, everything will turn out fine.
In our first part of the series, we learned the reason why we unknowingly hurt each other. Furthermore, we learned 4 different stances on how to avoid fights which not resolve anything in the long term. In our second part of the series, we learned the specific value that makes us keep arguing and we learned the basic structure of an argument. In the third and last part of this series, I will show you typical conflicts of couples, analyze them, and show how he and she could defuse the situation.