When we love, we love deeply. In that deep love there is an unwritten feeling of truth. We love and we trust. But what happens when the person we love is hiding things from us and we find out, sometimes years later?
I have worked with and I have known personally people who have suffered at the hands of their partners, and all of them did not know something was going on.
Constant fighting in a relationship can be exhausting. It can also be frustrating and disappointing. And there are many, many other emotions that might be felt too.
Constantly fighting in a relationship is just hard. And it makes the tender parts so few and far between that couples might be asking themselves if the relationship is even worth it. So why do couples do this?
Even though all of us are different, if we blame someone or something for our discomfort, then we have one thing in common: we’re internally wired the same. There are many of us in the world. And it’s my guess that if you blame or criticize when you are unhappy, you have heard about your behavior from others all your life.
I know I have. When I was little my older sister called me “the angry child,” because of my loud, blaming ways. I didn’t intentionally come into the world this way. I didn’t have a conversation with myself when I was learning how to express myself that said, “Start blaming. It’s a good system.”
No, that’s not what happened. I imagine it was my circumstances that encouraged me to use my voice to let my caregivers know I needed something. I just used my vocal cords to be heard. This habit just morphed over the years and I got better at leveling the criticism or blame when I got upset.
One of the most common difficulties I witness when I meet a couple is that one of the partners can’t show his emotions. And maybe that’s because in our culture men are encouraged to “tough it out” so many are not used to even knowing they are feeling something in the first place.
This works of course, especially when there is business or other financial or important dealings. Not feeling or knowing what you feel has its place. But when it comes to relationships this system can be a problem.
I was walking the neighborhood recently with a friend and we passed by a car parked on the street. The windows were down so I could hear a young couple sitting in the front facing each other and having a discussion.
I heard a few words from the man. He was explaining something to the young woman about how his feelings were hurt. I could feel his earnestness, even after just a couple of moments. I also could tell that he was trying really hard to get her to understand him.
Every one of us has hurt someone we care about. Unless we live alone in a cave and don’t interact with another human being, we will sometime in our life be hurting someone we love. It just goes along with being alive and interacting with others.
But when we hurt the person we love and are in relationship with—well, that can weigh heavy on us and make us feel pretty terrible. I know there have been many times I have been cross or said something sharp to my husband. I also know that even the slightest shrug of the shoulder or snappy reply has an effect on him.
So if we do things that are bigger than a rolling of the eyes, like hanging up on our partner, cussing them out, or slamming doors and leaving, well we have made not just a statement, we have made a big impact on the person we love.
As someone who is interested in what causes behavior, I am convinced that the madder you are, the more wounded you have been. It’s hard to think of an angry person as in pain though. Most of us want to get away from someone who is angry. We feel their fierceness and we just want to back away and not have anything to do with them.
I tried to calm him down. I did so three times. The fourth time I just let him rage, and that’s exactly what he did. He raged and raged and raged. And when he was done he got up and left the room. I continued with the wife and soon after the session ended. I felt a lot of emotion in the session and a lot of it was mine. I felt helpless to help him. I felt very sad for his inability to find a way to be understood by his wife. I felt him trapped inside himself and having no way to express himself except with a big booming voice that no one could tolerate.
A friend of mine suggested there is more to the fairness issue than just understanding you are always looking for something to be even. I thought about this for a moment and realized that I agree, there is more. Here is more.
When we are looking for something to be fair, or we are disappointed because things are not even, we come from a place where we have been hurt. Our hurt helps us see right and wrong in a very visceral way. It’s everywhere. It always exists. That’s how we evaluate whether we are treated properly, we ask the question, “Is it fair?”
Do you think of yourself as “miserable” in your relationship? It might take you a moment to really think about how you feel most of the time, but if you say “yes,” you are miserable in your relationship. Well, let’s talk.
All of us, at times, feel terrible in our relationship. That just goes along with the nature of getting close to another person. People are complex. You and I included, now add your significant other. We are all so intricately different and unique, it’s no wonder we might get frustrated and upset when we try and get along with them.
I was listening to a talk recently and the speaker was telling us about how our brains are wired. He said that when something good happens it doesn’t stick in our brain because our brain treats the good like Teflon. But when something bad happens, our brain acts completely different, it becomes Velcro.
It doesn’t make sense that our own brain would act so contrary to what would be more helpful to us in our lives. It would be much better if all the good things in life were to stick like glue and the bad things would just roll off, but that’s not the way we are wired.