I want to briefly describe a process that I successfully applied to myself on several occasions when I wanted to change a disturbing behavior of myself. I developed a three-step process for this purpose.
Principle: You are not your reaction. If people hurt you and you react hurting them, then this is first and foremost a reaction to your own injury. We do not actually mean the person we are facing, but really only want to defend ourselves. Therefore: You are not your reaction. Your reaction is learned behavior. There are other possibilities than to compensate in this way. These only have to be learned.
First step: Observe your behavior. In this phase, it will not yet be possible to change your behavior. Rather, you only notice after the fact that you have gone too far again unnecessarily. If you realize this, say to yourself: “Aha! Now you stepped into the trap once again!” If you like, also tell your partner. And even apologize for it. But don’t promise that it won’t happen again, because it will happen again. Just apologize for it. That will make him feel better. At the same time, you can point out to him what has caused your behavior. To what extent you feel hurt or misunderstood. This will sometimes lead to very good conversations.
Second step: Observe your behavior. But in time, your inner alarm will start to go off just as you hurt your partner. Once you notice it not afterwards, but while it happens, you know that you have entered into the second phase. Now you have the possibility to apologize immediately or to break the spikes right away. This phase will also last longer, weeks to years.
Third step: Observe your behavior. Since you have become more and more sensitive about yourself, you are now in a position to notice before, when you get into a “stingy mood”, and now you can consciously decide to live it out, or instead, put the true motives on the table. In this phase you are so far that you can put your own injuries and the lack of understanding on the table before they cause damage. The recommended course of action is to say such things right away. “My dear, I don’t feel understood by you in the matter xxx. But it is important to me. May I please talk to you again about it and explain to you exactly what I mean?” Or “I feel hurt by xxx. Why did you do/said that? Is there a special reason for this?” And already you have fruitful conversations that either bring you closer to each other or make it clear that you may not belong together. This would probably be the case if he does not respond at any of your conversation offers.