BF: changing thoughts during conflict with someone else


Periodically my boyfriend gets upset with me for things I say. When he gets upset, I want to keep my thoughts and therefore my feelings neutral, while also being kinds and not dismissive to him.

Examples of what I say and why I think it bothers him: 1) Talking to a third person, with my boyfriend present, I am asked my favorite place I visited and why. I say Alhambra Spain and explain marvolous things. boyfriend knows I took trip with my ex-husband. Even though I’ve boyfriend that my ex husband and I didn’t get along that trip, boyfriend is offended that I tell others about it since he’s taken me on so many nice trips elsewhere. 2) At dinner with my kids, my kids say ketchup is a vegetable and I say I think Reagan said that in the 80s. Boyfriend is very Republican and thinks Reagan was best president ever. He says he felt this and other comments from kids that are liberal are jabs at him. He says he won’t mention politics and asks if I won’t either. 3) boyfriends mother mentioned someone going topless at a beach and I say only time I did that during college on trip to Italy I got horribly sunburned. Boyfriend years ago had some Italian says all American women are sluts. I think he feels offended I like things about a country who thinks ALL American women are sluts, including me, his mother, his daughter (neither of whom have been to Italy), and for me to say I went topless in front of his parents was inappropriate. 4) once we were talking to another couple and a prior boyfriend came up and I said current boyfriend gets jealous. This ruined the whole evening for him. 5) I used to keep in touch with my high school boyfriend. Current boyfriend thinks old boyfriends only think of old girlfriends as potential sexual opportunity. I stopped contact with the high school boyfriend because it wasn’t an important relationship to me and I agreed that it’s not great for current relationship to keep talking with past lovers in general.

There are other examples. It happens maybe once every six months. Generally these times I am just making conversation and it doesn’t occur to me what I’ve said is offensive. He is very supportive of me and I don’t find him controlling. I’m struggling with how I can best respond internally and to him. Generally I try to explain myself and get frustrated he makes a big deal of these types of things. I used to get quite upset, sometimes crying. I realize he brings it to my attention because he is having negative thoughts about what I’ve said and that creates the feeling of fear or insecurity.

I have learned there is a trend of politics and other men/my prior relationships that is better to not mention, even if the reference seems awfully remote to me. And I don’t mind doing this with the goal of trying to be sensitive because I do his point in some cases and I am not trying to antagonize him. However I think it is bound to continue from time to time and I want to feel better in the moment and maybe change our dialogue about it.

I want to tell him he is trying to change his circumstances (what I say) so that he has more comfortable thoughts and therefore feels better. Like Byron Katie says, without his thought, we’re still sitting there enjoying our time together.

I guess the thought I have that makes me fearful is that he is wrongly judging me or he’s so sensitive I can’t always predict and therefore avoid what might upset him. I know this is ridiculous. It’s all just words, thoughts, feelings. Somehow I have to get a handle on my own thoughts at these moments. I guess I can tell myself boyfriend is having thoughts that scare him and so he’s trying to change his circumstances, so my thought can be he loves me, he’s having a thought error, I am fine.

Any suggestions?