This line jumped out at me from Cain’s novel. I’m not talking about football. Maybe you know what I mean because you are the recipient of those jabs. Or maybe you’re the one jabbing, and either you know what you’re doing, and keep choosing to jab your partner, or you’re oblivious to your jabbing behavior.
Either way, it’s a problem, and you need to take a hard look at this. If you’re jabbing with unnecessary roughness, you’re being emotionally abusive to your partner (your self-talk is probably self-abusive, too). It’s likely that when you were a kid your primary caretaker(s) were emotionally abusive directly to you, and/or to one another. You learned jabbing with unnecessary roughness by seeing and hearing it. Maybe you used jabbing as a kid to survive in your family system. And maybe you needed that coping strategy then. You don’t need it now. You’re an adult, and it’s time to clean up your own behavior. It’s time to call bullshit on this intergenerational trauma. You can stop it.
There are constructive ways to say what you need, how you feel, what you want (CouplesNet is full of information to help you.). No one gets what s/he wants all the time. Making others feel small, belittled, or scared, or as though they’re walking on eggshells around you is a shitty way to act. If this is you, or could be you, own up, be a Woman or a Man about this and get help to change.
I know you would not be acting this way if you knew how to behave otherwise. This is not a judgement. It’s a reckoning for you to be honest with yourself. Or at least to hear your partner asking for a change in behavior.
Jabbing doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a person enacting bad behavior. So, get help to knock it off.
Profusely apologize to your partner, show genuine empathy for how this behavior has affected him or her, and ask for forgiveness. Don’t expect instant forgiveness. You will have to show over time that you’re making progress. Partner, don’t grind down green shoots (efforts).
Remember, you will still make mistakes as you’re learning and practicing. Partner, don’t expect perfection. Both of you be aware of this: under stress, jabbing may be the immediate fallback behavior because the limbic (emotional) brain will kick off in 200th of a second. Breathe and give yourself at least 10 seconds to let your cortical (thinking) brain come online. Huh, 1/200th of a second vs. 10 seconds. Make repairs with one another right away if you can. If you need 30 minutes to calm down physiologically, give the time-out signal, and take the time to soothe and sort yourself out. Know it’s your responsibility to come back in 30 minutes and make an emotional repair.