tl;dr cycle of tension and fighting broken by a word of respect

I posted several days ago about what I perceived to be my SO's over-sensitivity, and received a badly needed wake-up call. I recognize now that I've been treating my SO without respect and it's been undermining the serenity of our relationship. I read the first 3 chapters of Love and Respect by Dr. Eggerichs yesterday, and it's helped me see what and how to change in my attitude and behavior in our relationship.

At the same time, SO read that thread and all the comments while on his work trip, and at first was very hurt, but we talked about it, and I laid out the changes I was committed to making, and we are both okay about it, that is behind us now.


The reason for this post is that I'm already seeing huge improvements! Last night as we were walking to a place for dinner, a driver was obviously not going to yield to us as we crossed the street. SO suddenly ran forward to get out of the way, and tried to tighten his arm against his side to keep my hand there and pull me with him. My hand was pulled from his arm though, and I ran across right behind him. He turned and said, "never let go of my arm like that!" in a harsh tone.

I felt hurt that he was yelling at me, I felt like he was upset at me, blaming me for letting go of his arm. So as we walked along a few seconds later, and I was quiet, trying to hold back tears, he asked, "are you okay?"

I started to say yes, but instead said "I'm hurt that you yelled at me, because I couldn't help that my hand let go of your arm; I wasn't expecting you to lunge forward like that and didn't have fast enough reflexes to stay at your side when you changed speed like that."

He became slightly annoyed. "I'm not upset at you, I just was scared that you were going to get hit, I got panicked when I felt your hand leave my arm."

I wanted an apology, so I wasn't satisfied to end the conversation at that. I started to say something and he cut me off.

"Lets not argue about this. I just wanted you to be safe." He was definitely not in a good mood now, and neither was I.


A week ago, our fight would have ended here, and the rest of the night would have been miserable and tense. But I reflected for a moment and realized that his harsh words came from a place of goodwill, that it materialized from love and fear put together. So instead of ending it there, I apologized to him for arguing, and I thanked him for caring about me and trying to protect me. We were silent and tense for a few more minutes, but then we got to the restaurant and our interactions went back to normal. Happy chatting and having fun. I was amazed to see how effective that was.

On a side note, after a few drinks, we were both happy and comfortable enough to talk in depth about the post I linked to at the top, and how both of our behaviors changed when we moved in together and had money stresses and health stresses as we got settled in a new city. I got an opportunity to share about what I've read so far in Love and Respect and he ate it up. I pointed out the above story and unpacked how and why that played out how it did, and told him how committed I am to treating him respectfully.

A huge thank you to everyone who gave me advice and helped me to gain a better understanding. Things are looking up!

Edit: formatting and phrasing