One of the primary blocks to communication is defensiveness. Sometimes we want to tell another how we feel, but they are just not open to hearing.
One of the principles we hear about often is that we should not blame others. Some people use this as a defense, refusing to listen to anything they think sounds like blaming. The problem then is that issues never get resolved. If she tells him she thinks he’s not spending enough time with the kids, what is the point of him getting mad and telling her she’s blaming him? A blaming statement would be if she said that the low report card marks were because he was not spending time with them. Even if she stated this as a worry, concern, or possibility, such a statement deserves some consideration. If they get into arguing and defending, the issue of the children gets left behind. If he tells her that she’s always hassling him, and she gets mad because he’s blaming her for behavior that he causes (she believes), then they just argue in circles.
Defensiveness generally arises when there is some truth to what is being said, and we do not want to hear it. Perhaps we are in denial, and do not want attention drawn to aspects of our own behavior of which we are not proud.
I am reminded of the story of Rumpelstiltskin. He did not expect that the heroine would ever guess his name, and when she did, he became so angry that he stomped his feet hard enough that he fell right through the floor and was never heard from again. Something like this often happens when someone hits the nail right on the head regarding some aspect of our behavior. If there was no truth in their comment, it would not bother us so much.
Amazing transformations can happen when people begin to consider that there may be a grain of truth even if we feel we are being blamed. It is for each of us to look into our hearts when we receive feedback, especially from loved ones. Most people would not make comments that were outrageously off base unless there were intentionally trying to hurt. If a conversation reaches that point, it’s time to end it anyway. If our intention is to be honest, clear and open, and to work for the highest good in our relationships, then we need to be open to feedback.
We need to be able to share our observations in relationship, and to lovingly assist each other on the path to wholeness. It is important to focus more on our own behavior than on criticizing others, but sometimes an issue comes up that we really need to talk about. Concerns need not be presented in an attacking way.
If you have a hard time dealing with issues even when they are presented gently, there may be some unresolved anger relating to your parents that you are projecting on to your partner. If we are working together as a team, then discussing better strategies makes sense. If there is a lot of defensive (or offensive) behavior going on, its time to check the jerseys to see if we are still playing for the same team.