Feelings

I kind of hijacked another topic so I decided to create my own.  

I know that we can affect other people's feelings.  But I do think that each of us has the responsibility for our own feelings, including working to change our behaviors and reactions when our responses to things aren't productive.

Here is an example.  My husband told me that when he gets email messages from me in which I complain about something, he has to engage in "respiratory control."  I took this to mean that seeing and reading my messages results in him feeling anxious.  This is a bad thing because anxiety isn't, in this context, a productive reaction.  In response to the anxiety, my husband shuts down and doesn't respond to my messages and he doesn't work on the problems or issues about which I'm complaining.  My husband's approach is then to say to me, "Don't communicate your complaints to me.  I can't handle them.  See, I have this physiological and behavioral response!" So far, you might still think that I am MAKING my husband react this way and therefore it is my responsibility to not talk about problems so as to spare him anxiety.

But I suggest considering a similar example.  I feel anxiety, sometimes manifesting in stomach pain and feelings that I can't breathe, when I'm worried about my children.  My children are now traveling abroad, one with a group in Asia and the other by herself in Europe.  I feel anxious about their trips because bad things could happen to them.  So, should I tell my daughters not to travel because they're MAKING feel anxious?  Of course not!  If I don't want to feel anxious, it's my responsibility to work on responding in a more healthy and productive way to my concerns.  

Likewise, I believe it's my husband's responsibility to work on responding in a more healthy and productive way when I bring up issues that concern him.  

The idea of productivity

Rosered,

It sounds like you and I have similar thoughts about what is a productive reaction to someone's feelings, and that it's generally productive to talk about them. My boyfriend has a completely different idea of productivity, and thinks his time could be better spent not talking about feelings. I suspect that this is because he interprets my feelings as complaints or criticism, and then tells me he doesn't want to hear it because he can't handle it. He thinks I say everything that comes to my mind (!), and values his style of communication (or lack thereof) higher than mine. For example, he says there are things that I do that he doesn't like but he keeps them to himself. When he is stressed or overwhelmed, he has an exaggerated view of how often I say things that he doesn't want to discuss. And he acts like he did nothing that contributed to my needing to address the issue, and then he puts it on me not to bring it up. He asks me if things are worth getting upset over, as if I always have a choice about how I feel. He acts like he is doing me a favor by not being open about what bothers him about me. Honestly, I would prefer it if he were so we could connect more. I think he's more doing himself a favor by not bringing up anything unpleasant. 

I like your idea that it is your husband's responsibility to work on having a more productive reaction. My boyfriend also shuts down or becomes assertive, there is not much middle ground. He actually told me that my getting upset is unproductive, which I understand to a point (but that's also invalidating), however he thinks his shutting down is productive for himself. Maybe it's a narrative that he tells himself to reinforce his justifications, that he has things to do other than talk about feelings, as if the two somehow negate each other. He took it a step further to criticize me and listed things I could be doing instead of feeling upset. I told him that I am busy doing things, I just also have feelings!

Sometimes it's clear that my boyfriend is working on things, like when I told him not to make excuses and justifications if he doesn't do something he said he was going to do. I told him if he just apologizes and says he forgot, I will feel like he cares and it will be easier for me to accept it. (This realization came to me when I read something on the boards recently about ADHDers not always understanding why or how they forget things, even after the fact.) Today he handled something that way, and it was over in one minute. My concern is his aversion to discuss anything he considers "unpleasant," because I can't always control whether I feel disappointed, and frankly I shouldn't have to. There is never a good time to discuss a negative feeling with him. I just don't understand how he thinks sweeping things under the rug is good for a relationship.