It’s hard to be criticized by your partner because you want his or her approval. Here’s a story that might help you change your relationship —
One evening my husband and I were preparing dinner together. I finished making the salad and dressing. While I was waiting for some fish to cook that my husband was grilling, I went to our bedroom to check my emails. When my husband called me for dinner, I finished up what I was working on. Five or ten minutes passed before I arrived at the table. By then my husband was already eating and obviously upset with me.
At first, as a way to justify my tardiness, the thoughts in my head went immediately to my husband’s inconsiderate table etiquette, of how often he gets up too early and leaves me at the table all alone. While this may be true, it didn’t give me the right to not be punctual. My husband’s disapproval of my not coming to the table on time was the issue at hand, not something from my husband’s past behavior that I was using as my defense. (I hate to admit how often I use this juvenile tactic to not accept responsibility for my actions instead of following the Golden Rule!)
My husband had a right to make a comment about my unacceptable behavior. I was guilty. I had gotten sucked into cyberspace where it’s easy to lose track of time, but it was my responsibility to start eating dinner with my husband when the food was served.
Sometimes we adults act like children. We can’t handle being criticized. We think we even have a right to our reactions. Well, we do, but can we catch ourselves and reframe them? Can we ultimately behave like an emotionally mature adult, admitting that we are wrong and moving forward in our relationship?
Since I didn’t blow up and could admit to my husband that I made the wrong choice by not coming to the table and continuing with my emails, we were able to have a conversation about how important it is to us to eat dinner together. It’s been a sacrosanct tradition for us for over 35 years. We reaffirmed that eating dinner together is important to us, even though it’s getting harder and harder to do so in this crazy world where everything is vying for our attention.
It’s painful to admit that you’ve been wrong, but when you do, you are free from the shame and capable of changing your relationship to the positive.
How could you have lessened the pain by hitting it head-on? Whether this happened last night or ten years ago, if you can talk to your partner about the incident, this could be the opportunity to heal a wound and prevent new ones.