My wife thought I was either hurting her on purpose, or cared so little about her that I was refusing to change any of my behaviors that might help her.
When you tell someone that something within their control is HURTING you, and they not only demonstrate an unwillingness to stop, but also are telling you that you’re too dumb, too crazy, too WRONG to know what’s real and not real—what do you do?
Put on a happy face and pretend everything is okay?
Decide to carry on as an intimate partner to the person who hurts you more than anyone else, and seems unwilling to stop?
Bad news, guys: You CAN’T make your wife or girlfriend happy no matter how hard you try. Not because they’re hard to please, but because all people must make peace with themselves before they can ever feel content and comfortable in their own skin. Until then, we’re all just fumbling around in the dark breaking shit.
But you CAN stop hurting her when she says “Hey. When you do that, it hurts me.” You can stop hurting her by NOT treating her as if she’s insane for feeling hurt by something just because that same thing might not hurt you. You can stop hurting her by continuing to do whatever the thing is that she says is hurting her because you don’t respect her enough or take her seriously enough to eliminate the pain-causing behavior.
I’d like to see what happens when a sad and angry wife or girlfriend tells her husband or boyfriend about something that’s hurting her, and instead of telling her she’s dumb and crazy, he apologizes sincerely, and moves forward giving his best effort to not let that happen again.
I want to know how many of THOSE wives and girlfriends go “looking for something else to complain about.” I want to know how many of THOSE husbands and boyfriends feel disrespected and mistreated by a wife who never makes him feel like he’s good enough.
When you reduce your wife or girlfriend to a stupid, nagging bitch while she’s privately bleeding from hundreds of papercuts you’ve already forgotten about and never apologized for, maybe it makes sense for her to try a dramatic, emotional outburst to get your attention.
When you dismiss her plea for help repeatedly, maybe it makes sense for her to remove herself from the relationship in order to preserve her health and wellbeing.
And just maybe, when you take responsibility for the pain you might have accidentally caused, respect your partner enough to listen and believe her when she tells you about it, and LOVE her enough to make sure the painful thing stops happening—just maybe that’s where marital peace and healing live.
Just maybe that’s how you get to ‘Til death do us part.
I wouldn’t know, because I never actually considered that I might be wrong about her, and that I was not only capable of hurting her, but that I actually was.