Relationship Fitness

S15: Ten Communication Topics E7: Are Demons in Play?

In “Relationship Workout for Men,” Season 15 Episode 7 titled “Are Demons in Play?”, Vince delves into the impact of unmet expectations and past wounds on current relationship dynamics. This episode focuses on understanding and addressing deep-seated emotional triggers—referred to as “Demons”—that can escalate conflicts and tension. Vince guides listeners through identifying their own and their partners’ unmet expectations and the hot buttons triggering these responses, tracing them back to past traumas. By recognizing these patterns, Vince aims to encourage empathy and deeper understanding between partners, facilitating a path towards healing and stronger connections. This insightful exploration serves as a tool for men to differentiate between fact and expectation, ultimately fostering more empathetic and supportive relationships.

Welcome to Relationship Workout for Men, a podcast dedicated to helping men be intentional in choosing a better partner, and being a better partner for the person they choose.

Season 15 Episode 7: Are Demons in Play?

In this episode, we explore “What to Talk About” Topic #7: Are Demons in Play? In other words, what are your expectations, hot buttons and triggered Demons?

As discussed in Season 2: The Mind, an issue can push a hot button, which triggers an expectation that is not being met by the life situation. The level of urgency we feel associated with this is a function of how strongly attached this expectation is to an unhealed wound from the past. All this can show up as drama and tension in our relationship.

Therefore, if one or both of you feel a lot of emotional urgency wrapped around an issue, stop. Breathe. Then ask yourselves what expectations are not being met by the situation. In other words, what “should” or “shouldn’t” the other person have done or said from your point of view?

Once you’ve identified the unmet expectations, figuring out the hot button can be relatively easy because it’s what caused the expectation to not be met in the first place. 

Identifying the attached Demon, on the other hand, can be much more challenging. You need to dig deep down into your past and ask what similar triggers and unmet expectations occurred that caused you a lot of pain.

Going back to our example:

For him…

  • He believes she should be grateful that he went to all the trouble to throw her a surprise party, along with getting her a fancy birthday cake (his unmet expectation).
  • He became upset when she yelled at him for throwing the party (his trigger).
  • All of which brought up a past, childhood wound; his father had a very short temper and would very often physically punish him for what he believed was no reason. Now the guy struggles when someone he cares for gets angry at him, especially if he thinks his intention was purely to do something nice for her (his Demon).

For her…

  • She believes he should have known that she doesn’t like surprises and what her favorite cake is (her unmet expectation).
  • She became upset when she walked into the surprise, which was further exacerbated by the fact that he didn’t get the cake right (her trigger).
  • All of which brought up a past, childhood wound; her father left the family when she was young, leading her to believe she had to always be perfect, as she had to take on a lot of adult responsibilities to help her mother. As a result, she doesn’t like surprises because she can’t get everything to be perfect for others to see (her Demon).

It is our Demons that lead us to confuse expectations with fact. Expectations can seem like truth to us because we’ve lived with them since childhood. But our expectations are not truth; they are simply reflections of how we’d like life to evolve around us for us to feel safer, a feeling of safety that was taken from us as children when the wound was formed.

Our Demons can also make our identities vulnerable, especially around areas like feeling competent, feeling like a good person and feeling lovable. Understanding these Demons can then help us find a balance in our identities as well.

Finally, understanding these Demons can also help each person feel more empathy toward the other. Caring statements like “It must be hard feeling such anxiety every time you feel unjustly accused” or “It must be difficult feeling like you always have to be perfect” can help form a bridge between your different points of view.

Okay, so that’s a quick discussion on “What to Talk About” Topic #7: Are Demons in Play?

In the next episode, we explore “What to Talk About” Topic #8: How did you contribute to the issue?

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