Confessions of a Committed Couple
This morning I woke up and started my day as usual. I made myself coffee and went into our favorite room with the big windows that overlook the woods. I waited for Brian to get up, make his tea and join me. Its a ritual we’ve maintained for years. We meet in the “group” room and drink our favorite morning beverage.
My intention when I got up this morning was to do a little stretching, watch the birds on the feeders and allow our day to unfold in a peaceful way. Somehow however my mind got hijacked and thoughts about expenses on home repairs flooded me. Instead of staying with my intention of creating a peaceful morning, I shared my worries with Brian. The conversation rapidly deteriorated… what’s next in our lives, money issues, and all the things we have to do, do, do. So now we’re really going down the tubes. By 7:45am, we’re both agitated, our anxieties triggered. Brian finally tells me the conversation is stressing him out and making him feel he has to double down on the amount of work he’s doing. I’m feel mean and ashamed for bringing it up. I apologize but the horse is already out of the barn-damage done.
Does any of this sound familiar? Why do we say the things we do? And what makes us bring things up at ridiculously inappropriate times? Timing really is everything.
So, this morning’s “episode” was fodder for exploring my motives. In long term relationships, the best processing often comes after we screw up.
Our relationships offer us an unparalleled opportunity to look at why we do the things we do, and to transform ourselves into better more thoughtful people.
When I looked underneath at my motives, these awarenesses came to me.
#1. I’m a lot more like my mother than I think I am. My mother thought she had an inalienable right to say anything to us at any time no matter how it impacted us.
#2. I have a hard time containing my anxieties so I blurt them out, thinking somehow that I will find relief (It never works.)
Brian and I call this phenomenon immature need. Young parts of us believe we can’t handle the difficult feelings that arise in life, so we want our partner’s to “fix it” for us. Blurting out our worries is a manifestation of immature need.
#3. Perhaps the most impactful truth I came to this morning, is that I unconsciously sabotage my peace (and Brian’s) by obsessing over stresses rather than inviting peace, calm and pleasure.
Because of the work we have done on our relationship over the years, we stopped the conflict from going further south. We could have kept arguing and blaming (which we still do sometimes). But instead we shared our truth and recognized the underlying dynamics behind a fairly persistent conflict we have.
I want to emphasize that I am not advocating keeping our worries to ourselves. Sharing our concerns and feelings with our partners is part of intimacy. But we have to be conscious about how and when these things are shared. Blurting out worries is akin to creating noise pollution in our relationships. It’s a very different experience to respect our partner's boundaries by asking their permission to share something that is bothering us.
What I am suggesting is knowing the motivation behind what you share. You can ask yourself the following questions:
Does my sharing bring more connection or less connection?
Am I respecting the other?
Am I blurting, complaining, wanting to be rescued or am I sharing my feelings without wanting anything in return?
So tonight I will share all this with Brian. I will let him know what I discovered and take ownership for my behavior. Maybe tomorrow morning I will be more aware of what comes out of my mouth. I will ask him how he slept. I will tell him about the comfort I felt having his body next to mine when I awoke with jet lag at 5:00 am. And maybe tomorrow morning, as we watch the sun come up, I will drink my coffee and mention how beautiful the goldfinches are as they turn bright yellow after a long winter.
It’s never too late for a do-over.