Do Your Marriage Conflicts Hoarsened Your Voice?

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Do Your Marriage Conflicts Hoarsened Your Voice?

We know that marriage/committed relationships can provoke parts of us that are not nice or appealing.

Truth be told most couples journey from the sacred to the profane in a New York second.

Those of us who are married or in a committed relationship know that there is no one in the world who can provoke more volatile, hostile emotions and meanness within us than our beloved partner.

It is far from a precious moment when we don’t see eye to eye with them.

But here’s the deal: There is wisdom in the flames. There is wisdom on the battleground.

We don’t grow without conflict.

When we fight there is something within us that is being challenged by our loved ones.

Our partner is waking up something that we need to pay attention to, something we understand about ourselves at a deeper level.

But we don’t want to hear what they are saying. 

Often they are telling us something we need to hear. Who else is going to confront us with those parts of us that get in the way of our own success and happiness?

The problem is it feels threatening to hear that some of our behaviors are objectionable to our partners.

So instead of listening to what they are saying, the little tyrant within us screams, “NO! You don’t have a right to make me uncomfortable … I won’t accept life on these terms. I will fight to the death to maintain my illusion of a world that revolves around me.” 

In addition, whatever our partner doesn’t like about our behavior usually isn’t presented to us with flowers and candy.

So we pull out our arsenal of defenses. We attack. We blame. We hurl our own creative critiques of them.

The spite war becomes explosive.

We use tag-lines like, “I may be fucked up, but so are you!”

Our conflicts hoarsen our voices. Each partner gets scarred, but smugly satisfied that they got their shot in.

So what do we do?

After the dust settles, we need to take responsibility for the nuggets of truth that emerged through our partner’s complaints.

This is difficult to do at the beginning, especially when our beloved isn’t approaching us in a nice way. At that moment we feel attacked, so we fight, flee, withdraw, hide, lash out.

Bypassing the urge to push back is virtually impossible because it feels like our very existence is at stake.

In marriage/committed relationships, sometimes things get real messy before the illumination can happen.

On the far side of these private and sometimes public battles are the chances for a little more compassion, humility and understanding for ourselves and for our partner.

There are also a number of other sacred encounters waiting for us on the other side, encounters that we may not realize like: make-up sex, make-up vulnerability, make-up remorse, make-up tenderness, make-up gratitude and appreciation and a lot more!

Sometimes the only way we can get to these cherished moments is through the messiness of conflict.

Your Turn

  1. Can you listen to what is in your partner’s heart when they are complaining about one of your shortcomings?
  2. Can you see that while there is some truth to what they are saying when they are criticizing, it is also a large measure of their own history?
  3. Can you make the sacred shift from your own defensive posture to feel your hurt and fear?
  4. Are you both ready to recognize and unpack this archaic habit that you seem to be stuck in?

If you are ready, something will open and the sacredness of your connection is sure to follow.

If you would like to learn more sign up for my upcoming Couples Workshop.

Loving in connection,

Paula M. Smith

Certified Imago Therapist | Scholar | Speaker | Couples Transformationist

401-782-7899 | paulasmith@post.harvard.edu

 

 

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