Having Your Say In A Relationship: Why It’s A Must

| January 3, 2012

Staff Writer - Katrin Callender

Have you ever been in a fight with someone and began feeling like a matador because their face turned red and hot, their nostrils flared and you were certain that they wanted to charge! Depending on the dispute you might want to bury your face in your hands and start bawling, or you might laugh scandalously and egg them on, or you might try to placate them. What you might find a challenge in that moment is communicating what you were feeling. And it might seem selfish at this point.  Yet the stalemate might well result from either party being unaware of the other’s true feelings. Might the argument have been avoided if either party had known what the other was thinking and feeling?

For a long time I put myself last in various facets of my life. I would work hard to please those around me and I truly believed that if they were happy, the relationship was a success. But I was seldom happy even as they gave me a pat on the back and told me what else I could do to keep them wearing their smiles. Of the tasks given or compromises reached or ground yielded, little caused me physical distress or pain. Instead they weighed heavily on my mind. What actually drained my energy and joy was feeling as though I was not equal to the persons around me. I worked daily to ensure that their needs were met, and they seldom inquired about my needs. It wasn’t long before I began to feel resentment. At first I tried to persuade myself that I was wrong to feel what I did. And I felt guilty and continued to bury these feelings. Then I decided that I was right to feel hurt, and I was mad that I had not been treated as I should. Then the battle continued, with me going back and forth.

Let your feelings known

Not once did I make my feelings known, in spite of the impact of my internal conflict upon my relationships. When heartbroken, I fought with those around me, but for trumped up reasons. I did not tell them the real reasons. It is funny but even as I was mad at what I interpreted as a failure to consider my feelings and my contribution to the relationship, I wanted to protect them from my anger. I see now that it was because I had been aware of an important piece of that puzzle. I knew that they could not be expected to know all that I was feeling. I knew that spiting truths in accusations was not the way to have them heard. Yet I took this approach time and time again. What followed was a long period of isolation. Whether it was the result of my behavior or a self-imposed punishment remains a blur.

I am grateful that the love shared with these individuals was strong enough to withstand this period. Many years later I ‘grew up’, learning how to tell my loved ones what I needed and wanted, and took time to show them how our desires could coexist. And one day I grew so strong and confident that I gave myself permission to be completely selfish for a few years. My internal dialogue began again. I thought I was teasing myself, and then I was horrified at the lack of a moral compass. And then I realized that I was giving myself all the love and respect I had been lacking for some time- that I , and not my friends and family, had been treating myself contemptuously for years.

I learned firsthand the extent to which not having my say could erode my relationships. I consider myself lucky to have relationships that have known forgiveness. And in this regard, I wish you the same.

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Category: Culture & Society

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