6 Signs You Are An Emotionally Unsafe Person
April 24, 2023
I saw a client recently who has seen three other therapists, and one of those therapists was a certified sex therapist. This client was upset because he and his wife were not having sex. He felt like the victim of a bait and switch. They had plenty of sex before marriage, and almost none immediately after. I hear this kind of story a lot.
I don’t want to generalize too much, because a sexless marriage or a low-sex marriage is complicated. There are lots of reasons why this might be happening, but sometimes it’s just not as complicated as we want to make it. Let me give you an example.
With this couple, not more than 20 minutes into the first session with them, I got the feeling that it was a situation I’ve seen quite frequently, where one person is not emotionally safe in a relationship. One spouse has a lot of anger and the other one starts to pull away sexually and other ways, like cuddling, affection, emotional intimacy.
So here’s what I want to say about this. Almost every angry person that comes to therapy – especially men, I don’t know why – doesn’t think he’s all that angry. It’s not that big a deal. His kids may flinch. They may be afraid of him. His wife may lock herself in the room when he is upset or feels like she’s walking on eggshells throughout the whole relationship, but he brushes it off as not true. Or they’re too sensitive. Or, he had every right to be that angry.
But listen, if you’re not emotionally safe for your spouse in your relationship, you’re going to pay a big price.
Let’s talk about what emotionally unsafe looks like. Whether you’re male or female, if you’ve got these things happening in your relationship, it’s not an emotionally safe space for your spouse or family.
- You get angry from full-out cursing, raging, throwing things, hitting the wall or slamming doors to the total silent treatment and complete disregard, and everything in between. And God forbid there’s physical abuse, but sometimes that as well.
- You have a really critical nature. You’re judgmental, you mock, make fun of, and judge the people in your family, and they don’t feel safe around that. Nobody likes to be judged.
- You may be angry and spiteful one minute, and then when you’re called on it or you have remorse for something you’ve said or done, then you immediately go to the flip, which is, ‘I’m such a horrible, terrible person. I don’t know why you’d be with me.’ That’s not safe.
- You pout when you don’t get something you want. You may tell people outside of the relationship things that are going on that make your spouse feel like they are getting thrown under the bus or you’re making them look bad.
- You’re controlling about money. Listen, nobody thinks they’re controlling about money, even when you’re controlling about money. You can go spend whatever you want to spend without any kind of consequence or explanation required, and you don’t even have to tell your spouse. But if your spouse spends too much money or on something you don’t know about, you might have a fit about that.
- And then the last one that comes up for me is, you get mad when your spouse doesn’t want to have sex or be affectionate. You get really angry about that and you feel personally rejected. And instead of dealing with it like a grown, mature, relational person, you get mad and have a fit about it.
I get angry at people in my office all the time. They want to argue with me and tell me they aren’t angry or they are less angry than they used to be. It’s not that big a deal. It’s not affecting their relationship and their spouse is too sensitive.
I tell them the same thing I’m going to tell you: You don’t have to buy what I’m selling, but this is costing you. As long as you keep showing up this way, you’re going to keep paying the price. There are things you could do and relationship skills you can learn that can help you get what you actually want in your relationship. These spouses that are stuck in marriages like this where they’re unhappy, start to become miserable and resentful. They may not leave, but it isn’t because they want to stay. They may be afraid to go or they may not want to break up the family, but they’re also slowly detaching and withering away on the inside being married to somebody who has all of this stuff going on in the relationship.
If that’s going on in yours, reach out and get some help today.
How healthy is your marriage?
ready to have a conversation?
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A lot of the therapy work I do is helping couples and partners understand what their contributions to the relationship are, and how they can start making changes for the better, specifically with communication. Specifically, when communicating with your spouse, it’s important to make sure that you are not part of the problem, but part of the solution.
I bet many of you have already seen the recent Brene’ Brown video making the rounds where she calls out the myth of marriage being a 50/50 partnership.
I get asked a lot how to save a marriage when one spouse is leaning out or is contemplating divorce. Everybody’s situation’s different, but what I’m seeing a lot lately is very concerning to me.
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