Couples

Open Instead Of Defensive

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Not getting defensive in the face of criticism is a hard thing to do and in the context of romantic relationships can be looked at as an ideal to strive towards rather than an easy strategy to implement. What most of us do is rationalize our defensiveness as just sticking up for ourselves. We weren’t raised to let someone else unfairly trample all over us were we?

The truth is that getting defensive about an issue in a relationship is one of the surest ways to block growth and make you both stagnate because the other never really feels heard. It’s like a volleyball match where you are both spending all your time trying to dig out spikes. You are only really concerned about protecting your own side of the net. It’s a selfish attitude.

The fact is that even if your partner’s perception is wrong, if you can listen to it without judging it or instantly going on the defensive then everything will improve. You will gain valuable insight into your partner’s thinking patterns and you will show that no topic is off limits in your relationship, making you both feel free.

You will have time later to correct errors in perception, but if in the moment you can find a way to be open and just accept what is being said instead of countering with your side of the story, you might be surprised to find yourself feeling much better during your fights. It doesn’t matter whether your partner is right or wrong, what matters is that the subject feels important enough that containing it is no longer possible. When you become defensive the complaint doesn’t have a place to land and will hang around, which is one of the reasons why some couples fight about the exact same thing for years or even decades.

No one likes to hear what they are doing wrong but if we can agree in principle that no one is perfect then why does it have to be so tragic to hear from someone we care about that we are not perfect? You will probably also find that if your attitude becomes open during arguments your partner will stop attacking you so much. Being defensive is like hitting the ball back over the net, only to wait for another spike to come your way that you will have to block once again.

Greetings I'm Michael, the owner of Evolution Counseling and the author of all the articles on this site. I got my master's degree from Seattle University in community mental heath counseling and have committed myself to advancing my knowledge of psychology and to evolving my own philosophical system ever since. In addition to the content on this site I offer online coaching using Skype. If you'd like to learn more about it click on the online coaching tab or if you think you'd like to set up a session send me an email at evolve@evolutioncounseling.com.

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