Nobody enjoys a difficult conversation, but YourLifeChoices member Narelle needs to have one with her husband. Clinical psychologist Dr Emmanuella Murray explains how she should proceed.
My husband thinks all his problems are everyone else’s fault and when I try to tell him he gets upset. He’s always trying to blame others for his troubles, but many times I think it might actually be his fault or his inability to compromise. He doesn’t learn from his mistakes. He tries to change everyone around him but doesn’t really do enough to grow or change himself. He doesn’t see things from other people’s points of view. I love him, but how do I get him to realise he needs to change?
A. Narelle, you poor thing. It can be hard when you love someone and they’re unaware of their behaviour and how it affects others.
When people blame others, it can sometimes be a defence mechanism, learnt when they were younger. It can make them feel better because they have placed blame elsewhere, and it can also be a clear sign that they are struggling to deal with their own emotions.
I’m sure you have tried to tell him, and others probably have too, but I wonder how people have approached him.
Narelle, you need to have an open and honest conversation with him about how you are feeling and for him to understand the impact of what he’s been doing.
Equally, your husband needs to feel heard, because if he is met with a defensive reaction, it’s likely he will get upset.
When you want someone to see your point of view, it’s good to show them that you understand theirs first. In other words, start your conversation by saying: “From what I understand, this is what you’re thinking/feeling …” then when he agrees, you can explain how it is for you. People are always more able to hear what you say when you show empathy first.
I really hope that your husband realises how much you love him and how much you want him to be happy. Relationships are not easy, Narelle, and often we must have the difficult conversations to help a relationship grow.
Are you good at the difficult conversations? What’s your technique?
Dr Emmanuella Murray is a clinical psychologist who has been practising for more than 10 years. She works with children, adolescents, adults and couples, and presents to professionals and community groups. Go to her website for more information.
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