- desire to understand my intentions (even when I'm not very clear)
- care, and so on.
I know none of you end the sentence with . . . yelling, contempt, despair, anger, hostility, stonewalling, defensiveness, the need to be right, etc. Right?
It's easy for me to sit at my desk, where it's quiet and peaceful, and write to you: So treat your partner the way you want to be treated. And yet, that is what I'm saying.
When the limbic (emotional) brain gets triggered, its only concern is safety. "Am I going to live or die?" That's what your limbic brain's job is. So it's true that the reaction from you is fight, flight, or freeze.
I implore you to freeze your lips.
Breathe. Notice your heart rate and breathing. When your limbic defensive reaction-wave comes back down (and it will), then speak.
State things in the positive, and stick with "I" statements. Such as:
"I wish you had asked me what I meant by that."
"I wish you would reassure me before you share your concerns."
"I want to be heard, and I need your help in listening."
"I want to reconnect with you. Would you make eye contact/hold my hand/breathe with me?"
"I feel scared/anxious/vulnerable."
The goal is to take away the hooks that either of you get caught on (think: anti-velcro), soothe the limbic brain, and give the cortical (responding) brain time to come online (it's much slower than the limbic brain). Stay away from "you" statements (you didn't listen, you don't . . . ) and editorializing (call me if you don't know what this is).
And yes, you're human, and you're not going to do this right every time. Do it well five times for every one done poorly. Give him/her the benefit of the doubt; believe in good intentions. Usually, poor behavior is a primal cry for connection (secure attachment).
If you're not sure how you behave, hold a mirror up to your face in the middle of one of these interactions . . .