Defensiveness can manifest as both an emotional state and as a behaviour you can observe.
While being defensive can provide you some temporary relief, at the end of the back-and-forth blame game, there might be a lingering bitterness, and in some cases being defensive can be perceived to be a lack of respect or lack of submission, especially when it’s within the confines of marriage.
Here are some signs that you are always on the defensive.
Refusing to take responsibility for your actions.
Choosing to argue instead of apologising.
Passing the buck instead of being accountable.
Hurling hurtful statements as a means of evading the truth.
Bringing up past issues as a way to take attention away from the current issue.
Shutting your partner out through silent treatment.
If you have found yourself doing this, here are a few ways to deal with this now:
1. Build self-awareness
You need to recognise when you are becoming defensive because the truth is that it is easier to be defensive than to admit a wrong.
Pay close attention to your emotional state and the thoughts that run through your mind when there’s a conflict.
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2. Confront the issues before you confront your emotions.
It is important to attend to your partner’s feedback. If you are accused wrongly, you should try to respond with compassion and express your apology if there is a misunderstanding. This will go a long way in calming them down.
3. Build your self-esteem.
Being defensive might be a response to low or no self-esteem because you do not want to feel like you’re being trampled on.
Work on your self-esteem and remember that no one is perfect or infallible.
4. Speak to a professional
If you’re battling defensiveness in your marriage or relationship, it may be beneficial to speak to a professional who can help troubleshoot the root causes.
Defensiveness is a common posture that people adopt in relationships when communicating, and it can sometimes lead to a sudden breakdown in the direction of conversations.
People generally appreciate it when you take responsibility for your mistakes, as such, it becomes problematic if your partner feels you are always being defensive.
Being defensive involves consistently reacting to corrections or offering unnecessary explanations when your actions offend your partner.
It can also serve as a means to evade taking responsibility regarding an issue.
If you’d like to book a counselling session, send an email to [email protected]