"I'm sorry YOU feel that way...but that's not my problem. You need to deal with that."
I heard this recently and have heard it numerous times over the years in session. On paper this starts off as a really "differentiated" or healthy statement but then quickly falls apart and I want to talk about what may be a potentially better response. First off, remember we can't control others emotions and second each spouse will have separate and vastly different experiences of life events. So the above statement reflects this separateness. However, we are told that in marriage we are to become one so we also are intended to be connected or AT LEAST concerned and caring of our partner. Where we get in trouble is when we say, "but that's not my problem." No we can't fix our spouse's problems in thinking, reacting, or interpreting situations, etc but we can CARE.
So if you could see emotions in a relationships on a continuum then on one extreme you would have the cold and emotionally dismissive and on the other extreme it would look more like emotional manipulation.
On the emotion dismissing side, one of the spouses basically is making the statement that emotions are off limits. "That's irrational." If one of you is using the word rational or irrational a lot then typically there is some emotion dismissing going on. The perfect argument or the use of "logic" is the desired course to these individuals. Now I'm all about making sure your brain is connected to your decisions, but when that means emotions aren't tolerated then it's probably too far.
Now flipping to the other extreme, here we see couples so tied together emotionally that from the outside it's hard to understand. Now I'm not making light of the pain that relationships can cause but to be honest some couples/individuals really look childish at times. Disconnected from the other extreme, its easy to base decision making on the moment and the outcomes can be terrifying. (so much more could be said but this is meant to be brief.)
The classic pattern that oft gets repeated is where one individual is desperately trying to use "logic" or and almost looks like the parent in a relationship and the other is so connected to their emotions that they come off "childish." When two parties line up around issues in this stance as one becomes more logical the only way to balance is for the other to become more emotional.
So given this context you can see how the above statement might be effort to move out even further to find balance for the "super logical".
In my experience the logic person is not wanting to be emotionally blackmailed or controlled into doing something so they are "drawing the line" and saying enough is enough.
Well this is a pattern that really doesn't have a natural resolution that doesn't make one of the parties feel gypped. Basically this may resolve by one party giving in and the other "winning." Sadly when this the relationship as a whole is taking it in the shorts. Truthfully some issues may not really have a "resolution" but the goal is to manage these kinds of a conflict in a way that they don't do excessive damage to the relationship.
So what's the answer? Well today I'm speaking to the "logic" side or the individual that finds them self saying the quote above. Don't say it! Well at least the second part. It would probably be much more productive to say, "I'm sorry you feel that way...I can see it's really bothering you. That's a bummer. What do you need?" The real key is to be able to remain separate emotionally but communicate clearly that you care. You don't want your partner thinking you don't care about their emotional distress. No you may not agree on the facts and the thinking that got them to their emotions but that isn't the point right now. Right now you want to communicate a moving towards, a moving in, a coming closer. "I care, I'm here."
If you do that rather than shutting down their emotion you will be engaging it which will most likely result in the conversation de-escalating.
In the video above I share an experience where I left Kerri crying in the bathroom, while I went out for a bike ride which demonstrates a basic example of navigating somewhere in between these two extremes. Emotions and Logic are not enemies...they work best as friends.
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