Gina and Scott have begun to avoid each other. This is pretty sad for a married couple who claim to love and care about one another, but it’s what has happened. The tension started a few months ago…
Gina is head of the human resources department for a thriving company. Scott has a good job, but he’s not thrilled with what he does and has been looking for something new. When a position with Gina’s employer opened up, Scott thought that getting the job would be no problem– after all, his wife is on the hiring committee!
Scott was disappointed when he didn’t get the job at Gina’s company. He felt hurt and betrayed when he discovered that Gina hadn’t spoken up in his favor when the decision was made. She explained to him that the applicant they offered the job to was far more qualified than Scott and it would have felt unethical to her to recommend Scott instead.
Since that time, Scott has become very quiet around Gina. He feels rejected and disrespected. Gina feels a mixture of guilt and irritation. She was in a difficult position and did the best she could but Scott doesn’t seem to accept that!
Neither of them knows how they will move past this and regain their connection.
In any love relationship or marriage tension happens.
It might be traced back to one unfortunate incident or it could be the cumulative effect of many smaller conversations and actions. The point is that when there’s tension in your relationship, you and your partner aren’t able to communicate and be close to each other.
Distance forms with the tension and the more time that passes, the more the tension and wedge between the couple grows.
One way to relieve relationship tension is…
Don’t take it personally.
A very powerful way to tame tension and begin to get your relationship back on track and happy is to stop taking things personally.
When you take it personally, you make whatever happened or however your partner feels YOUR fault. You believe that your partner’s grumpiness, anger, pain or sadness is somehow caused by or all about you.
Nobody means to take things personally, but it happens all of the time and to all of us.
You notice that your partner is irritated and you instantly believe that you’ve done something to set him or her off. The truth about what’s caused your partner’s mood might be quite different. There are so many other people, memories and situations that could have your partner in this irritated mood– it might have nothing to do with you.
When you take it personally, you make a difficult situation worse. Your attention and energy are diverted away from your partner (who is in pain) and the actual problem is. You are unavailable to support and help him or her. Instead, you’re all caught up in this being about you or your fault.
Don’t take it personally– take responsibility
We know, sometimes there is a very real link between something you said or did and your partner’s mood. There are times when it DOES truly seem to be about you.
Gina knows that it was her decision to recommend Scott’s competitor for the job and not Scott that really upset him. Even now, months later, she asks herself if she made the right choice. Deep down inside, she believes that she did make the right choice, but she still feels guilty and that their marital troubles are all her fault.
Remember that there is a difference between taking things personally and taking responsibility.
When you take responsibility for your share of what happened, you are acknowledging to your partner that you played a role in whatever disconnected the two of you. It’s helpful to suggest what you will do to change or make amends for what you said or did.
Know that taking responsibility doesn’t mean that whatever your partner’s behavior is okay with you. Set boundaries when you need to and let him or her know what it is you want.
Gina sits down with Scott and explains to him (again) why she made the hiring decision she did. She takes responsibility for her role in the tension that has built up between them without making how Scott feels her fault. She admits that she has been more defensive than usual and she knows that has not helped matters.
Gina promises Scott that she’s going to stop reacting so defensively toward him. She also tells him how talented she genuinely thinks he is and offers to help him look for another job. Scott is glad to hear Gina’s compliment and apologizes for blaming her and holding a grudge. He knows that the other person did have more experience and was a better candidate for the position.
Both feel a huge sense of relief. They have broken through the tension and silence and can get back to enjoying being married again!