Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Walter Jacobson, M.D.

Posted September 12, 2010

Published in Lifestyle

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Picking Fights In Politics & Relationships

Read More: anger, communication, marriage, politics, reconciliation, relationships, resentments

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In politics, people don't play fair. When we don't like a politician, we will find any excuse to attack the person. We will use anything that person says or does as an opportunity to vilify or blame them in some way.

We will distort what was said or done. We will twist the truth. In most cases, we're not even aware that we're doing it.

Filled with self-righteous bile and bias, with rage and resentment, our perception of reality becomes distorted without our knowing it and despite how intelligent we might be, to the point of our honestly believing that our judgments are justified and that our outrage is reasonable.

Although this appears to be the nature of the beast as far as politics is concerned, when this happens with our partners and where our goal is a sustainable, long-term relationship, this type of behavior is highly destructive.

Here's how works: Let's say we are angry at our partner for something that was done days, weeks, months or perhaps even years ago. Either the perceived offense was never discussed or it was never resolved to our satisfaction such that a powerful resentment has been smoldering and festering under the surface. We are angry and in an attack mode, and we don't even know it.

Subsequently, when our partner says or does something that is fairly innocuous and inconsequential, it is distorted by our anger and resentments such that we perceive what they've said or done as one more unloving attack upon us, one more act of selfishness and inconsideration, which provides us with the justification, in our mind, to go ballistic on them, which is what we do.

We give them both barrels. We spew our rage and venom. We call them names and do everything we can to guilt and shame them.

Our partner, having no clue where our rage is coming from, unaware that we are fuming over something that happened sometime in the past, and knowing that they have done nothing inconsiderate or unloving in the present moment, gets defensive and angry at having been unfairly attacked.

We then take their reaction as one more example of their unwillingness to own what they have done, admit when they are wrong, and apologize for their bad behavior, not yet realizing that we are completely in the wrong and out of our mind.

Obviously, this scenario can't help but weaken the relationship and possibly damage it beyond repair. The take-home lesson here isn't all that tricky:

Best that we not harbor resentments towards our partner. Best that we bring our grievances to the table and not sweep them under the rug.

If we have a problem with something that they've said or done, we should address it when it happens and make every effort to resolve it.

If our attempts at communication fail, our grievance falls on deaf ears, and our partner is unwilling to validate our position such that compromise and reconciliation remain elusive, it behooves us to either continue the discussion at a later date and hope it can be resolved at that time when tempers have subsided and both parties have had a chance to think about the issue, or to let the issue go.

If we choose to let it go, we truly have to do that. We have to accept our partner's flaws and the relationship's limitations without anger or resentment. If we can't do this, we will likely repeat our behavior of picking fights with our partner and venting our anger towards them inappropriately.

Eventually, the relationship is likely to crumble. Should it manage to survive, it will surely be an unpleasant journey.