Little things make big changes. In our culture we have so many expressions that represent this principle: "A stitch in time saves nine” ...
For many reasons some of us try to minimize or ignore either our own feelings (anger, frustration, sadness, etc.) with our partner or our partner’s feelings.
- It might show up as a quick “comforting” gesture meant to tell our partner subtly to get over their emotions quickly please.
- Perhaps it is a habit of just not saying something when our partner has done or said something to hurt, shame or embarrass us.
- It might even be your self-talk when you convince yourself that what you are feeling is silly or out of proportion and so you focus on talking yourself out of even acknowledging your own pain or disappointment.
Since this pattern is so pervasive and we are all guilty of it at times it must have some pretty big advantages right?!
Well, in the short term this ignoring of the little things seems brilliant! It lets us do a number of things:
- Not feel the pain of the moment as intensely - be that our pain or our partner’s pain as we implement strategies to convince our own brain that ‘it’s not that big a deal’.
- Blame shift - we can become the hero who isn’t bringing something up and therefore feel a little bit better about ourself or when we are minimizing our partner’s emotions we can feel great about being wiser and helping them get perspective - so we may be telling ourself.
- Avoiding conflict and difficult conversations can just give us the illusion that we got away with not having to feel the discomfort that can come with honest talks.
- Focusing on what we know how to do feels better. Staying in our comfort zone feels less vulnerable and more powerful. Feelings are messy and unpredictable.
- Allocate our precious emotional resources. Sometimes we just don’t have much left in our tank so we minimize and let slide all kinds of things to conserve energy.
So, with so many reasons why we minimize, there better be some good reasons why not to right!
I’ll end with my own start on that list but also want to share this great article I found while doing my research: This Is Exactly Why You Should Stop Minimizing Your Partner’s Feelings
So, what are compelling reasons for taking the small things seriously:
1. The little things we notice are often part of something bigger already. If they aren’t they will likely become part of a bigger pattern.
2. When we don’t deal with the small frustrations that matter - like disrespect, shaming, possessiveness, mean sarcasm, threatening body language, etc. we can become desensitized to them. They become normal, we stop being as shocked as we should be by them. The behaviors tend to get worse and the inertia to do something about it lessens.
3. Emotional conversations are easier when the issue is smaller. Once it has become big it has more tendrils and is more complicated to talk through.
4. When we pay attention to the small things in our relationships, they can usually be handled with some compassionate listening and care. They don’t have to escalate. Defensiveness can be minimized or even not present. That helps!
5. Paying attention to the small things and dealing with them builds important relationship muscles - it builds assertiveness, it builds trust, it builds intimacy!
There is a wonderful expression ‘keeping it clean’ used to mean a commitment to not ignoring the little things in a relationship because they do lasting damage. (Think little river … Grand Canyon.)
So, you know I’m going to end with questions.
What have you been trying to minimize or ignore?
Have you been putting up with some ways of being treated that are disrespectful?
What supports would help you be able to initiate some healthy conversations?
Until next time,
The Luv Life Coach
Marilyn Orr, MA, CEC, PCC is a relationship coach with Luv Life Coaching, passionate about equipping couples with the tools for real and lasting intimacy. Learn how to listen better, handle conflict in productive ways and bring out the best in your partner. Contact Marilyn and grow your Luv Life skills today!
Marilyn is hosting her next Couples Workshop on Saturday, June 8 at The Cedars Ranch. To find out more and to register, click here: Couples Workshop at The Cedars Ranch
"I highly recommend this workshop. My partner and I definitely left with a strengthened bond." ~ Couples Workshop Attendee
Posted on Thu, May 16, 2019
by Marilyn Orr filed under