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My husband is honest to a fault.
As much as I hated this about him when we first started dating, now I think it’s a blessing. Looking back, his plain bluntness gave me the opportunity to grow and change for the better.
Like any other relationship, we’ve had bad days. The beginning was particularly rough since both of us had carried gigantic emotional baggage and a past that was filled with betrayal, neglect, and abandonment.
I would say that mine was definitely bigger. Luckily, and unlike other men I had dated, he never pulled the “it’s me, it’s not you” line. If it was me, he would simply tell me. And if it was him, he was more than happy to show accountability.
Of course, that felt alien to me. He was the first man to show me where I was going wrong, and surprisingly, this had tremendously helped me on my healing journey. I was finally able to see my wounds and heal them.
One of my biggest and deepest wounds was feeling powerless. This issue goes back a long way. From being bullied at kindergarten to dating men who were emotionally unavailable, I felt like my power was taken away from me.
The result was catastrophic. Whenever I wanted to express frustration or make my point, I’d pull out the guilt card—even when the other person wasn’t guilty. Making them feel guilty was my unconscious way of feeling powerful and getting what I want.
I adopted this unhealthy dynamic throughout all my relationships. But my husband was the first to open my eyes to it. After many guilt trips and him almost resenting me, he told me that my constant guilt trips were starting to make him feel unworthy. He was trying the best he could, but feeling guilty about his actions and responsible for my feelings weren’t doing the relationship any good.
He explained to me how making an effort felt insignificant. What’s the point of putting in the necessary work if I’m constantly making him feel it isn’t enough?
That particular conversation opened my eyes to a deeper wound within me. Not only was I feeling powerless but also unable to be responsible for my own happiness. Making him feel guilty was my way of not tending to my emotions, being dominant, and making him responsible for my well-being.
It took me months, tears, and practice to completely eradicate this unhealthy conditioning. I healed my wound and realized there was another way.
I simply wasn’t winning when I pulled out the guilt card. I replaced guilt trips with healthy, proper communication. For example, in the past, I would say something like, “I just cleaned the entire house and you didn’t even take the trash out. I can’t believe this!” Now I would say, “Baby, could you please take the trash out? I’m feeling a bit tired and would really appreciate it if you could give me a helping hand.”
Changing my tone and telling him what I need instead of guilt-tripping him has dramatically changed our relationship for the better. To avoid any misunderstandings—and since he knows how much of a sensitive person I am—he constantly makes sure to ask me if I’m okay, if I need help, or if there’s anything we need to discuss.
We’ve likely all been there. Whether we guilt trip our partner or are on the receiving end of a guilt trip, know that playing the guilt card jeopardizes our relationships.
Since I was there myself, I know that playing the guilt card is not an intentional act. Our traumas, wounds, and conditioning drive us 90 percent of the time. In my case, my partner helped me recognize and heal that wound. But the surefire way to know if we are guilt-tripping our partner is to observe how they feel about our way of communication.
They could feel overwhelmed, pressured, unworthy, or like a constant disappointment.
Eventually, we push away our partner and they might end up resenting us for not appreciating what they have been bringing into the relationship. Dig into whatever is making you guilt-trip your partner. What’s the underlying wound? What’s the hurt that’s been motivating you to be dominant and controlling?
If you’re craving attention or acceptance, there are far better ways to receive them. Whenever I feel that I need attention, I simply ask my husband to give it to me—and he does.
Replace unhealthy patterns with new ways that don’t inflict hurt, emotional manipulation, or control on our partner.