Updated: Apr 28, 2021
When you’re having a painful conversation, your first instinct is likely not going to be to give your partner the benefit of the doubt. More commonly, you will get defensive. It's natural to get defensive when you're hurt: you're defending against the hurt.
It's A LOT harder to respond generously in those painful conversations. It's difficult to speak with kindness and respect when you feel so frustrated and invisible that you're ready to scream at the top of your lungs and go insane.
It's a lot harder, but it's not impossible. And to work things out, it’s necessary.
I know it's a big ask. I'm suggesting that you can (and should--though I don't like the word should) respond with kindness, generosity, and respect, even when you feel disrespected. In relationships, we need to be generous in these ways, even though sometimes you will feel like it’s impossible.
To be generous in difficult conversations, you have to:
Be able to regulate your emotions (anger, hurt, fear, etc), just enough to have a choice over what you say and how you say it. (For more information about regulating your emotions, go here)
Learn to trust the PROCESS OF COMMUNICATION. If you master the process of communication, you can talk about any kind of content. If you trust the process of communication, you know the beginning of the fight is just the beginning, and not a final landing place. You don't have to defend yourself until the end, if the end is as horrible as the beginning. (Hint....it's usually not if you're working on better communication skills)
Remember that your partner is doing the best they can with what they know, and they're human and flawed just like the rest of us. If they could do better, they would. If you learn the process of communication, you give them a chance to learn to do better.
It's hard, I get it. I still get defensive and work on shifting into a more generous place as well. But you can do hard things. And this gets easier with practice, I promise!! Plus, the reward is as big as the ask ❤️.