When someone says that they value their partner, in my office, and then are verbally aggressive to them, I ask them to clarify. In my world, being verbally aggressive is not something that you do to somebody that you value. Asserting yourself is fine, aggression signals the opposite of value, to me. When two simultaneous and mutually exclusive messages are sent, I am not sure which one to take seriously.
As a couples counselor, I hear this repeatedly,
“I really value you and this relationship,” and it doesn’t make sense that this behavior comes next- I’m going to have an emotional affair and hide my behavior from you. I clarify and ask people what they mean, realizing that they don’t match up in my head.
I have been informed that I annoy people by asking them to say what they mean, to be verbally precise and to mean what they say. Speaking with integrity and verbal precision takes away the guesswork in relationships at work and at home. Yes, that means you have to think before you speak and the person communicating has the responsibility to get their point across to the specific audience.
I have had people complain that they have to think before they speak around me, as if considering the audience before speaking was an imposition. I had never considered that to be a burden. If someone wants to get their message across, it is incumbent on them to deliver a message in a way the person can hear. At least that is how I look at it.
“I think you’re amazing,” is nice for the wife to say, but to follow it with this series of actions- so I’m going to put this at so much risk it can’t ever work. When the partner asks for clarification and is confused by the disconnect between words and actions, he received, “I hear you protest and I cannot stand having to watch every word around you. I don’t like feeling judged. I am walking on eggshells.”
Notice the emphasis on being wrong about clarifying, not about the words and actions of the person not matching. Not on the person who is doing things that put the relationship in jeopardy…
Another point to consider-If you see something dangerous to the relationship and point it out, is that being judgmental or protective?