Youjustifications: Why are we fighting? Let me not count the ways
Youjustifications: Iâ€™m right because you justâ€¦
Again, heâ€™s ready to leave for an event and sheâ€™s not. He asks her how long sheâ€™ll be, honestly, because once he knows, he can adjust, do something to pass the time, manage his impatience with distractions. Itâ€™s just the uncertainty that irritates him.
To appease his impatience she says â€œfifteen minutes,â€ but twenty-five minutes later sheâ€™s still not ready.
Whatâ€™s going on here? Not one but two issues, at least. One issue is different paces. She takes more time than he does. She feels rushed; he feels impatient. The other issue is precisionâ€”she wants more flexibility; he wants her to predict her ETD more accurately.
â€œYou said fifteen minutes,â€ he says in his hard voice, which instantly becomes a third issue. To her, his hard voice is intimidating, unfair, and a turn-off. To him itâ€™s a direct expression of how he feels and is necessary for waking her up to the cost.
Without turning away from her mirror (thereby signaling â€œIâ€™m moving as fast as I canâ€), she looks wounded and disappointed. Her response becomes a fourth issue. She feels sheâ€™s just responding naturally; he feels bullied by these unassailably yin tactics.
â€œPlease, darling, donâ€™t be impatient with me,â€ she says, zeroing in on his impatience, his most indefensible behavior.
â€œIâ€™m not impatient,â€ he says in his impatient voice. â€œThe problem is your inability or unwillingness to think about my needs. I asked a simple question and you wonâ€™t give me a straight answer.â€ He zeros in on the ETD bait-and-switch, her most indefensible behavior.
Meeting him on his issue but her terms, she says, â€œYou think people should be expected to predict the future accurately.â€ Now thereâ€™s a fifth issue. She thinks people canâ€™t predict accurately. He thinks they can.
â€œFine,â€ she says when they canâ€™t settle that question. â€œI realize now that itâ€™s irresponsible of me to attempt to meet your standard, so next time I wonâ€™t attempt a prediction.â€ Sixth issue. Does her pledge resolve things or not? She says yes. He says no.
In the deadlock, with both focusing on polar opposite causes of the strife, a seventh issue arises. Who started it? And an eighth. Whoâ€™s perpetuating it? The issues keep piling up. And under the weight of them all, he and she both zero in, trying to claim thereâ€™s just one issue.
Youjustifications justify behavior by implying that the opponent has just one motive and itâ€™s a bad one. Indeed, the worst one plausible. As issues arise, you concentrate on the one where you have an advantage and ignore the ones where you have a disadvantage. Above all, you ignore the way the issues accumulate. Youjustification means you always act as though thereâ€™s only one thing going on.
â€œYou just are too impatient.â€
â€œYou just donâ€™t care about leaving me hanging indefinitely.â€
â€œYou just were feeling angry and needed a reason to vent.â€
â€œYou just perpetuate our fights.â€
â€œYou just bully with your hard voice.
â€œYou just bully with your feminine meekness.â€
Justifying oneâ€™s actions with â€œyou justâ€ in situations that rarely if ever are so simple tends to add further layers of conflict without resolving any that have already arisen. In general, beware of the constraining effects of the word â€œjust.â€ â€œJustâ€ means â€œIgnore all other factors.â€
â€œI was just asking how long you would be.â€
â€œI just need to get everything done.
â€œIâ€™m just expressing my feelings.â€
â€œIâ€™m just persisting until we both get resolution.â€
â€œIâ€™m just speaking my mind.â€
â€œIâ€™m just letting you know how hurt I am.â€
A couples counselor once said, â€œIf youâ€™re taking longer than a minute to â€˜just share your feelings,â€™ youâ€™re not just sharing your feelings. Youâ€™re trying to influence someone to change.â€ The insight is a good oneâ€”but it doesnâ€™t go far enough. Youjustifications attempt that sort of influence in a few pointed words; they don’t need nearly a minute to do their work.