Entering a relationship is fun and easy for most people. The hard part is staying in when the relationship has lost its shimmer and the power struggle wears on in a hurtful way. Neither fighting nor withholding help anything and only serve to hurt. Neither person gets heard when the reptilian brain is engaged in punitive or cold warfare. And know this without any doubt: criticism perpetuates defensiveness. It does not work. It never has; it never will.
To have something different, we need to do something different.
My discovery of Imago Therapy changed me personally and professionally. I practice it because of its depth and because it works. I have invested fully in certification and practice because of the joy in restored connection and the true healing it brings. There is a reason we do what we do, and when we compassionately understand the reason for our partner's defensive behavior, we actually help them lose it. My challenge is getting people to do something they've never done before. Humans are usually drawn toward the familiar and fear the unknown, which is why we engage in the same old dance, even if it doesn't work. At least I can predict what happens, right? Even if it slays me every time, sadly.
Do your relationship a favor and commit to something different, something restorative. The best way I have found is this: get yourselves to a weekend workshop, so you can get conscious about the dance you do and why you do it and what works so much better. Then follow it up with three months of weekly couples sessions because 90 days is about how long it takes to change a neural pathway in your brain. If you are or can be in Atlanta the last weekend in August, I'd love to have you in my workshop! Here is a comment from my last one: "I learned constructive ways to communicate with my partner to resolve conflicts; I learned the importance of showing appreciation for one another regularly, and how to restore romance".
A conscious, mature relationship is a rich and rewarding experience. The restored connection is within your reach.