Defensiveness is any reaction to your spouse that disrupts their expression and/or constrains the process of you coming to an understanding of your spouse's position.
It is typically a self-protective reaction to an expression from your spouse (nonverbal or verbal) that you experience as attacking, blaming or criticizing.
What’s hurtful to one partner may not be to another.
Although you may not feel hurt, your partner’s pain is very real to him. ” Validating your partner is not the same as agreeing with her.
When I discuss how partners can validate one another in my office, however, I have found that much of the time couples aren’t sure what it is or how to do it.Couples (and families, for that matter) get into trouble when they invalidate each other’s feelings.Often, partners don’t mean to do it, but when arguments turn into conflicts, it’s common to hear statements like these: When your partner says, for instance, “I wish we spent more time together,” or, “I’m concerned about our finances,” he’s really saying, “I feel alone in this relationship,” and, “I’m scared.” Look behind the complaint for the feelings.Validation is all about recognizing your partner’s feelings and valuing them as a part of his subjective experience. Your partner’s perspective and emotions regarding the issue at hand will differ from yours, and that’s a good thing.If you can listen to each other with curiosity and openness, you may learn something new about each other and come closer to resolving your concern.But what surprises me isn’t my anger at him; it’s my anger at myself. To cope, I’ve blamed my partners, I’ve blamed myself, and for a brief period of time, I thought I found the answer in couples therapy. Like any self-help junkie, I made it my business to learn everything I could about the philosophy behind what I hoped would save my relationship.I attended a lecture by Harville Hendrix, founder of Imago Therapy. Because in the midst of a heated battle about whether he was actually going to follow through on a promise he made, a light bulb went off: I really don’t need him to validate that my feelings are okay.The fact is that problems in relationships are often a result of what individuals do with invalidated feelings: Unfortunately hiding (dissociating) or getting rid of (projecting) feelings is never the last of it.Invalidated feelings have a way of coming back to haunt the relationship over and over.However, explaining is only one of many forms of defensiveness. I said I’d be home by and I’m not, but I got waylaid on the way out of the office by Joe and you know how he can be (yes-but). Is it really too much to expect that you’d keep it clean.” Elaine responded, “And why didn’t you get the oil changed in my van yesterday like you said that you would!Blame-shifting, counter-attacking, minimizing, yes-butting and justifying are other common manifestations. Then traffic on 75 was bad and it took longer getting out of town than it usually does (blame-shifting).” “You could’ve called.” Ellen quickly retorted. I’m not the only that’s dropping the ball here (counter-attack)” Proverbs 18 says, He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.