These simple tools can help you change that.
First, Take a moment to step back – physically and emotionally
Take a deep breath
Allow yourself to just feel what you are feeling in your body (where is the anxiety? In your chest, your head, your stomach? Is it warm, hot, cold? Do you feel you want to jump out of your skin? Throw something? Or is it more of a numb sensation? Identify where you feel it and just allow it to be there. The more you try to ignore or push it away, the more present it becomes. It will wash over you much sooner if you can accept its presence and just be still for a moment until it passes. It may take 90 seconds which could seem like an eternity. Try to be with it and wait for it to let go.)
Allow him to do whatever it is he is going to do (chances are, he will do it anyway and the more you try to stop him, the more he might dig in)
Once you are calmer (your feelings are not overwhelming you) ask him for more information. The goal is to get a better understanding of the challenge.
Tell him you want to understand what it is he is thinking, yes, use the word thinking – or how he “sees” things (men, being logical creatures relate to us as feeling creatures generally. Feelings often see too abstract for men. So, if you can ask him what he “thinks” he can hear you more easily. He can relate to thinking.)
If he becomes aggressive let him know that you will listen if he is calm and can communicate his needs to you in a way that you can hear.
Re-affirm your commitment to hearing what he wants to say and then REALLY listen
This is key, because often we are just waiting on our partner to stop talking so that we can talk. That is not really listening and will not yield the results you want.
If he begins sentences with “you______” ask him to please just talk about what he needs or wants. And do your best not to become defensive.
Hopefully he will agree.
If not, tell him that it might be better to talk about it at another time
If he does agree, proceed to the next step.
If he doesn’t, tell him that you will happily talk to him when both of you can be calmer.
Ask him to agree that neither of you will give in to reactive emotions.
Once you let him speak and you feel you understand what he wants and needs, check to make sure you understand. You can tell him what you heard and ask if that is correct. You may have a comment to add at this point, if so, let him know, without being confrontational. Just share your perspective, from YOUR perspective, not how he should see it.
Now, talk about what it is you need. Be calm and “factual”. Explain how you feel when ______ and that you would like for him to hear what is important to you.
Now, I realize all of this sounds very lofty if you two have developed a pattern of behavior that quickly escalates and never gets resolved. It requires a lot from you. I get that. It will take practice. It may not go smoothly the first time.
Remember, you have a long history of not having effective communication. It is like learning to tie your shoes or ride a bike. If you can hang with it, you will begin to experience these steps as more natural. They will become your new pattern.
Why would I suggest something that requires so much from you when you already feel you are not getting what you want?
Because, if you are in pain, and what you have been doing hasn’t worked, this is a much less painful step than visiting an attorney. It is new yes, but doable, and another big step in getting back to you, regardless of what you eventually decide about your marriage.
If you plan on divorcing, and you have children together, this is a much better conversation solution as well. Because whether this is a pleasant thoughtl or not, if you share children you will always be in contact with this person. He is the father of your children. You will share custody of your children. Wouldn’t it be a much lovelier, more peaceful life for your children and YOU if every time you saw each other it was at the very least respectful?
Think about it. Again, what do you have to lose except a whole lotta anguish and heartache? You loved this person enough once to say “I do”. I know you want the very best for your children. And not only that, you want to move on. Anger ties us to people. Resentment and frustration zap our energy. If you want a clean break, you can master these skills. You can do it.
What’s on your calendar for fun today?
List three things you can do all by yourself. Yes, all alone. Be with yourself. Taking care of yourself is necessary. I am not talking about fluff things (although – hell yeah – throw those in too!!). But what can you do today that would make you smile like a kid.
Here are a few FUN SUGGESTIONS - and yes, total kid material.
Go to the zoo – yes, the zoo. When was the last time you went to the zoo, alone, by choice?
Go to a movie only you want to see. Buy a large popcorn and drink and sit back.
Get that massage you always talk about but never do. Our emotions are closely tied to our physical well being. If we are exhausted, in pain, stressed, angry, it all goes straight to our cells and stays there until release. Let go – give your body a break.
Go to a coffee shop or the library and write down 10 things you want to do in the next year. They can be small or large. Write them down. There is magic in taking them out of your head and committing them to paper. So commit.
If you write down 10 things- pick one to work on today. Write down three things you can do – TODAY- to bring that dream closer to reality.
Go in your bedroom, lock the door, put a sign on the outside that says “Do not disturb on penalty of great pain” and then take a nap.
Go for a swim.
Go horseback riding
If you knit or sew or paint or draw, go to your favorite store and buy supplies to create something (nothing feels better than this)
Cook something no one else in your family likes – just for you- and eat all of it!
Treat yourself to a beautiful desert at a restaurant you have always thought was to expensive.
Drive somewhere you have never been. Put your favorite music on, crank it up and sing along – loudly. Wave at the drivers next to you when they stare at you in wonder!
Take a walk in a forest.
Go to a petting zoo – nothing inspires us more than soft baby animals.
Go fishing if that is your thing
Go rock climbing.
Write down five things you will do when the weather is cooler.
Go buy the latest trashy novel (or anything else that interests you- The Sweet Potato Queens Big Book of Love is hilarious if you have never read it) and sit in a coffee shop and read until they kick you out.
Don’t go back home until dark – this means if you have children, ask for help, or hire a babysitter - $30 for sanity is a pretty cheap price to pay!
Get a Henna tattoo
Go to the ballet your husband never wants to go to.
Go to a museum you love.
Go to a beach, if you live close to one – water is soothing to the soul.
Don’t cook, clean, organize, look at your to do list or anything remotely adult – as a matter of fact, throw your clothes in the floor, only make food for yourself and leave the dirty dishes for someone else to do- forever if necessary.
DO NOT CALL OR TALK TO ANYONE YOU DO NOT WANT TO!
These are just a few suggestions to get the ball rolling. They are doable and a whole lot cheaper than a divorce and not nearly as permanent as becoming a mother, or being arrested for murder or having a mental collapse! SO GO FREAKING DO ONE OF THEM – LIKE TODAY- LIKE NOW.
I see you. I see you shaking your head and saying I don’t understand your life. What’s there to understand? If you do not take care of you, and you don’t think your husband is capable, or willing, what will happen when you can’t because you have fallen over in pain and bitterness and hopelessness?
SO DO IT – JUST DO IT.
Be wild, be free, BE YOU!