Are you sick of her living in the past?

© personal.psu.edu

© personal.psu.edu

With many of the couples I counsel, I’ve noticed men complain about women bringing up the past. Yes men sometimes live in the past too, but for some reason, this tends to be more of a female tendency. Before criticizing your partner for drudging up these events, think about why she does so. Many women want to let go of hurtful incidents, but they can’t. Think about when you wanted to let go of something but weren’t able to do so, like the comment your boss made today or your last argument with your sibling.

If you want your wife to get over the past, you need to be willing to help her move on. Telling her to forget it or let it go won’t help; this is just an attempt to ignore the problem. Your partner may hold on to painful events because she feels you don’t understand her experiences. While you may call it an overreaction, your partner has old wounds from the past, such as betrayal, hurt, disappointment, etc. and keeps repeating the points because you haven’t yet validated or empathized with her feelings.

How to validate your partner’s feelings?

Create a time where you and your partner can talk about the problem in detail. A time where you are not distracted and are fully present. Yes, you’re going to have to confront the issue if you want it to go away for good. The person who is having difficulty letting something go can start by writing down all their resentments (i.e. when your partner showed up drunk or late for an important event, when they lied, etc.). Then sit down and talk about the things that caused the arguments in the past. It is helpful when you hear these faults, in order to validate her concerns.

Validation doesn’t mean agreeing with your partner but instead means you are willing to understand your actions could be something that upset her. Just by hearing you say her feelings make sense and her reaction is normal, will allow her to get over the past. It will give her a sense of being heard and she will feel safe enough to reconnect with you. If the problem isn’t talked about and dealt with, it will constantly come up as your partner tries to connect with you.

Often a man says he can’t talk to his wife because she over-reacts and brings up the past. Having an honest and open conversation with your partner, in this manner, will calm her down and allow both of you to communicate freely. Women often complain “he never communicates.” He is more interested in working and coming home late or being on his phone/computer. This could be because he doesn’t feel safe sharing his problems with someone who is over-reactive. In turn, a woman feels she can’t trust a man because of his lack in communication and assistance in getting over these painful past emotions.

So the answer is to have the person who is hurt write down their resentments and share them. As a result they will likely become less reactive. By talking about the past we are better able to let it go and create space for making better and more loving new memories with our partners.

© 999ktdy.com

© 999ktdy.com

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4 Responses to Are you sick of her living in the past?

  1. deborah says:

    How about the under reaction of the male? How about the comments “its all in your head” or “your just imagining things”. The male not taking responsibility for his actions. Marriage is complicated and open communication is key. Women do bring up the past because their feelings have not been validated and depending on the issue there could be a break down in trust. If the same actions are taking place reactions- It has been explained to me that a person should only have to explain once and not have to repeat themselves. Women do not like to bring up the past but feel they have to in order to be heard. How sad! Beofre marriage it is advised thatmarriage counselling is suggested. Learning how to communicate to one another and let the issue go is ideal.

    • deborah says:

      How about the under reaction of the male? How about the comments “its all in your head” or “you’re just imagining things”. The male not taking responsibility for his actions? Or the high pitch voice from the female that sounds like whinning or nagging? Women believe the louder they get the more they will be heard. But in retrospect men are very good at tuning out. We know that for every action there is a reaction but at what cost? Marriage is complicated and open communication is key. Women do bring up the past because their feelings have not been validated and depending on the issue there could be a break down in trust. If the same actions are taking place of course there will be a repetition in reaction. It has been explained to me that a person should only have to explain themselves once and not have to repeat themselves. Women do not like to bring up the past but feel they have to inorder to be heard. How sad! Before marriage the recommendation to take marriage counselling is strongly recommended. Learning how to communicate to one another and let the issues go is ideal. One never knows it could save your relationship and marriage.

      • Nicole says:

        Hi Deborah,

        Thanks for your reply! This is exactly what this post is addressing, instead of under reacting or not validating your partners feelings, the man should instead acknowledge the feelings and empathize with his partner. In doing so the wife will not need to repeat herself as her feelings were validated

  2. deborah says:

    I hope I was not bashing. There are 2 people in the relationship and learning how to comunicate to one another is ideal. I worry about the work “emphasize”-hoping the male does not just give in. Giving in is in no way a way of validating feelings And this leads to the cycle starting again. I hope in your office Nicole you have the book Men are from Mars and Women from Venus. We are truly different beings and if one is fortunate to find someone totally compatible, who respects who you are, and loves you for being you-congratulations. In one of your articles you mentioned accepting the person for who they are-if your partner is what you deem as needing work or that you are hoping to change-this is not the person for you. Take a step back and take a look at who you have deamed a project. If you are not willing to accept the person overall for who they are move on…let them go…..you will be doing both of you a huge favour. Obviously you are not compatable. The heartache in the end is not worth it.

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