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Interpreting Motives: Relationships With Dr. Jankovich

Mark Freeth
Flickr/ Creative Commons 2.0

I worked with a couple having an intense fight.

The husband told his wife she was avoiding the issue by throwing in old complaints; he called her a coward—--she blew up. The husband thought he was just sharing his feelings, but to tell someone what you think their motives might be is not sharing feelings---it’s making a judgment and it’s a lousy fight style. Keep your judgments to yourself; we all make them, but they don’t work well in an argument. Nor does it work to tell your partner what you think they “really” mean when they’ve already told you what they mean. None of us know another’s feelings better than they know themselves, even if you’ve been together for 30 years. The husband in this fight also spoke faster and faster while getting louder and louder and constantly interrupting his wife so she couldn’t speak; he knew better but wasn’t able to dial down his emotions so he could argue fairly. Don’t tell your partner their motives; don’t call them names; keep your judgments to yourself; let them talk. Works better.

Dr. Jankovich has been working as a psychologist since 1974. She works with a range of areas, including relationships, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, grief, trauma, and struggles with life transitions.

The photo included in this story is licensed under Flickr Creative Commons.

Dr. Jankovich is a former commentator for “Relationships with Dr. Rebecca Jankovich” and has been working as a psychologist since 1974.
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