Do you ever find yourself getting in the same silly fights with your partner over and over again?
Whether it’s taking the trash out, doing the laundry in a particular way or washing the dishes, is it always something?
Does your blood boil with rage when your partner screws up again? Do you feel like you can’t agree on anything, even the small stuff?
Well, my dear, it may not actually be about washing the dishes or the other small stuff. In fact, if it causes that much grief, I’ll bet it’s not.
If you are getting into the same circular arguments over and over again, it’s likely not about the minutia you’re disagreeing about.
You can’t possibly be that passionate about the dishes.
Instead, you are arguing about a much larger issue in your relationship:
How much you matter to each other.
Underneath the frustration about not being able to manage the small stuff is probably some degree of fear that you’ll never be able to manage the bigger stuff.
You may be wondering, if you can’t rely on your partner to do the dishes after you’ve asked him 100 times to, how will you ever be able to rely on him when you need something important? You don’t plan on getting sick and needing him to take care of you, but what if that happens? How could you ever rely on him?
Couples find themselves in tricky spirals of negativity all the time, and get bent out of shape over what seems to be nothing. But the dishes are a disturbing reminder to many that they just don’t feel that important to their partners.
And if you feel this way- invisible, unappreciated or not even considered – you may react with hostility and get into that horrible spiral.
Underneath your rage, perhaps you are worried that he just doesn’t care. And if he shuts down or backs away from you, and doesn’t bother with the dishes, it’s like your worst fears come true.
But here’s the thing:
He doesn’t know what’s going on inside of you. He has no idea you are worried he doesn’t care. He just sees you as this fire breathing monster.
Think about it.
It makes sense to back away from someone who seems so angry. He may be scared or overwhelmed. He may care more than you realize. And he may, just may, feel hopeless and helpless himself, like he can’t make you happy no matter how hard he tries. So he gives up.
Check in with yourself.
Is it really just anger about the dishes? Is it really just frustration that he doesn’t live up to your expectations? Or is it something more?
Is there some fear there too? Perhaps it’s fear that he’ll never be there for you the way you need him to be, or maybe it’s a deep worry that he just doesn’t care or think about you.
We tend to protect ourselves from these overwhelming, painful and raw feelings by reacting with more surface level emotions like anger. Of course the anger has its place too, but if that’s all he sees, it won’t do you any good to bring him closer to you.
If you’re deep down worried that he just doesn’t care or even think about you, take a deep breath and consider letting him know. He’ll be more likely to respond to the part of you that’s a scared little girl than the part that’s an untamed lion, ready to attack.
Can any of you identify with this post? Have you been here?
Next time you find yourself blowing up about the dishes, I dare you to let your partner know how you really feel underneath that rage.
Cheers to your best relationship,