Heart, Spirit & Mind

Two phrases that harm intimacy and relationships

There are two phrases in relationships that can disarm an honest conversation.

When your partner comes to you about a problem in your relationship and wants to talk to you, these two phrases disarm her. They are:  “I’m sorry you feel that way” and “Let’s discuss this later.” She is disarmed because she feels disrespected, marginalized, handled or invalidated.  She definitely does not feel like she is being heard. It will result in damaging the relationship.

Often these phrases are used by people who want to avoid having an honest conversation or being accountable for their words or actions. When you partner tells you to discuss things later, what they are really saying is, “your point of view is making me uncomfortable. I’d rather move away from it because I can’t answer your concerns.” It’s a way to avoid taking responsibility.

Rather than being tools to demonstrate that you heard your partners grievance, they are being misused.  It allows one to deny responsibility for their part in an issue, and invalidates the other person by deflecting the importance of their words or feelings. It’s a convenient way of deflecting attention to the role we played in the problem.  This of course stunts the growth of our relationship and compromises its integrity, emotional growth and the relationship itself.

When a person we loves response to a serious concern in this way, it breeds mistrust and contempt.  The impact of this mistrust destroys relationships and makes ones partner angry.  People get angry when they want to be heard and we don’t have the courage to listen to them honestly and with care.

It is extremely important that in order to show our respect toward others, we show it through not only our words, but through our actions.  Our response to difficult situations through our body language and facial expressions and voice inflection communicates our intentions, positive or negative.

When people bring issues to us, it is because they value the relationship and want to keep it.  They want to address the issue, grow and move forward.  To be a good partner, we must truly listen and respond with empathy.  When mutual trust is reinforced, the relationship deepens. If it isn’t the relationsiop falls apart. It is up to us to make the relationship we want to have.

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