A relationship is a blessing that comes with great responsibility on both of the partners. It flourishes when both partners contribute to strengthen and nurture it, and on the flip side, it can be easily ruined if one or both stop caring about it. Many women ask, “he gets defensive whenever I tell him how I feel” how do I deal with them? Defensiveness stems from certain factors such as low self-esteem, bad childhood memories, and less validation from others. It has the least to do with you and most to do with your partner. It is common among men and is curable.
What is defensiveness?
First, we need to understand what defensiveness is and where it comes from. Defensiveness is a rarely intentional reaction that shields one from guilt and self-doubt. Defensiveness comes when a person is not ready to accept responsibility or self-doubt, it is because if he accepts that he was wrong, that makes him feel failed. To avoid this guilt, one starts reacting, often unintentionally, in a way that might further damage the situation or may hurt the feelings of the other partner.
What causes defensiveness?
According to psychotherapist Lisa Brookes Kift, defensiveness may stem from bad memories of childhood. People who doubt their abilities and think they have deficiencies get prey to this behavior. The memories of repeated reactions to tough situations in childhood stemming from sinking self-esteem become a habit of defensiveness in adulthood.
But remember, it is not necessary that defensive people always have a bad childhood. Sometimes our attitude and approach to gain our partner’s attention may evoke defensiveness in them. Think about the last argument between you and your partner. Did you used any of these phrases:
- You never listen to me
- You did not hear me
- You always prioritize your hobbies over me
If you use these phrases with or something similar to them, then there is something wrong that needs to be addressed. And if it is not the case, then maybe your partner needs time; maybe he is going through some situation that is troubling him.
Why do men get defensive?
Now coming to the question “my boyfriend gets defensive when I tell him how I feel” OR “my husband gets defensive when I tell him how I feel.”
First of all, you do not need to worry too much about it; it is not irreparable. There comes a time in a relationship when a woman asks these questions; generally, it is because one is not completely aware of the situation of the other, and things turn into like:
“Why does my boyfriend get mad when I talk about my feelings,” on the other hand, he thinks like:
“You think I am always wrong, and you blame me for everything.”
It is not the case that your boyfriend or husband gets angry when you talk about your feelings; instead, you provoke their instinct of defensiveness.
How to communicate with a defensive person?
1. Do not use blame language.
As we mentioned earlier, avoid using blame language, such as “never,” you never care about me,” “you never pay attention to my feelings.” These words create a sense of unappreciation which automatically evokes defensiveness. Even if he is not behaving like you want him to, it does not mean he has done nothing good in the universe with you. There are always things he has done that make you grateful to your partner.
Start by appreciating him, “I appreciate that you are working hard to achieve your goals, you are an ambitious man, and that makes me love you more. However, can we talk about how we can make things move smoothly without disturbing our relationship with our profession?”
“You always make me feel secure because I do not have to worry about a lot of things when you are around. I am grateful to be with you. Is there a chance we can discuss how we can make this relationship more beautiful?
2. Begin with some vulnerability
There is nothing wrong with humility; in fact, it is the sauce that can melt anyone. For instance, “I was always sensitive towards being ignored as a child. I know you love to watch your show, but sometimes, it sends me back to that situation of being ignored.”
In this way, you are not provoking your partner, nor are you blaming him. You are stimulating him to make you feel safe and happy. He would immediately start worrying about you and finding ways to make you happy
3. Keep the focus on your feelings
Beginning with mentioning how you feel is a good way to prevent defensive behavior. Focus on how you felt when your partner had a certain behavior. It is a good practice to avoid defensiveness and gain his attention. For instance, “I felt unimportant when you canceled the dinner without convincing me.” “I felt upset when you got angry during our last argument.”
4. Avoid losing temper
It is critically important to control your temperament despite situations getting tougher. Of course, it is not easy to keep control when your partner is not even listening to you, but losing control will only work as fuel in the fire.
Staying cool is hard during an argument, but this is the most fruitful strategy you can apply. We all have a threshold of losing temperament but do not believe that this threshold is fixed. It can be improved by keeping a positive mindset and practicing. Try this one time and see the results for yourself. Your partner will eventually start listening to you if he finds out that he is talking to a person who has full control over his instinct.
It is tempting to spit out all your anger in front of your partner, but it only impacts your relationship negatively. If you can not keep control, tell your partner you need to take a break.
5. Ask meaningful questions
Most people cannot see what is going on in their partner’s head during an argument. They see the picture from their perspective; deep down, maybe they are dealing with a person who is feeling failed or insecure. It is necessary to ask meaningful questions to your partner. As we suggest, ask, “It seems like I was too outspoken. Did my comment hurt you?” “I tried to keep myself calm, but it seems like I failed. Did I make you feel insecure?”
Sometimes, you do everything at your best to make a constructive conversation, and still, the other person gets defensive. Remember, defensiveness has more to do with the person than your method of dealing. It could be due to deeper issues, and you are not to be blamed for doing anything wrong.
We have learned that defensiveness stems from certain factors that have least to do with you. These factors can be bad memories from childhood where a man loses self-confidence, which makes them fear taking any responsibility. A mild understanding of human psychology can play a brilliant role in understanding how to deal with a defensive person and strengthening one’s relationship.