A loving relationship needs to feel safe in order for the individuals within it to grow and flourish and in order for the relationship to grow and flourish. When criticism, anger, and blame creep into our relationships we no longer feel loved, nor do we feel safe. Imagine a safe place for you. When do you feel safe? Where and when do you feel comfortable and secure? Where are you? Notice what you see, smell, taste, hear and touch when feeling safe? What emotions are you feeling? Notice who else is there with you? You may feel close to God, to other people, to a pet. You may remember special past experiences of safety. Get a clear picture of your safe place.
This is the kind of comfortable place you need to create within yourself and in your relationship with your husband. Most of us feel safe when we are loved, accepted and protected. Most of us also have times when we feel very unsafe; times when we feel very threatened. This is because we all have unmet needs, unresolved hurts and pains from our childhood and we’re vulnerable human beings.
The next time your partner blames or criticizes you stop and picture your safe place and try to stay within it. When both partners express their anger, hurt or pain at the same time it is non-productive and often makes things worse. When one partner is angry, upset or in pain, the other one needs to act as the helper or healer or nurturer - not jump into their own anger or pain. This is a very difficult task and most of us fail at it at times.
Keep focused in your mind on your goal of having your relationship feel safe and comfortable and loving for you both. Also hold onto the memory of your own safe place. It will not be easy to remain centered in your own safe place while your partner is “attacking” you. This is love in action and it can revolutionize your relationship.
The first thing you need to do while remaining in your safe place in your mind is to listen to what your partner is saying and be ready to mirror this back to him or her. Just listen and hear. Next summarize back what your partner has said. This will help your mate feel you have heard his or her viewpoint. It doesn’t mean you agree with what was said. Simply say, “You said....” Then ask, “Have I got it right?” and “Is there more about that?”
The next step is to see the incident from your partner’s point of view. You might say, “I can see that from your point of view...”
Next listen for your partner’s feelings about the subject and empathize with these feelings. “You feel (hurt, angry, sad, disappointed, etc.)...” Learning to do this will take practice and determination. A change in one person often leads to a change in the partner.
“When you’re kind to others you help yourself; when you’re cruel to others, you hurt yourself.” Proverbs 11:17 The Message