Are you guilty of using your behaviors to try and manipulate your spouse to get your way? Perhaps you’ve given the silent treatment in hopes your partner would change his mind. Or maybe you’ve embellished how bad your cold was so that your spouse would agree not to go on his fishing trip. It is important to examine your motives.
Melissa was angry that Dan was going to visit his family for an entire weekend. She knew she would be lonely without him but didn’t want to go see his family. She had hoped when she said she wasn’t going to go he would decide to stay home with her. She was hurt when he said he would just make the trip without her. She immediately began to look for reasons why he should not go. She told him that the lawn needed to be mowed, the house needed to be cleaned, and she was overwhelmed with everything and he should stay home to help her “for once.” Instead, of talking to him about feeling hurt and worrying she will be lonely, she resorts to trying to guilt him into staying home.
People tend to learn strategies to get their needs met during childhood. Then as adults these strategies can carry over. Perhaps you used to witness your father guilt your mother into things. Or maybe you saw that your father always gave in when your mother gave the silent treatment. So you learned this is how to get your own needs met. Perhaps it works in the short term. Your spouse might cave and you get what you want. However, in the long term, it can cause damage to your relationship and your own mental health.
It is important to learn to identify how you feel. Perhaps you are angry but don’t know how to talk about it. Or maybe you have anxiety or maybe you feel sad. Learning how to tolerate uncomfortable emotions and take care of yourself is important. Learning healthy coping strategies can improve your relationship. Learning how to directly communicate your feelings and needs can be beneficial as well.