I came across this excellent video that ties nicely into my posts for this month. Please take the time to watch the video and see what you can learn. Just click the link above. Remember, you are amazing!!
I came across this excellent video that ties nicely into my posts for this month. Please take the time to watch the video and see what you can learn. Just click the link above. Remember, you are amazing!!
by John Lightner
When we endeavor to heal from any major crisis or trauma, the power is most definitely in the process of that journey. This week we will dissect three differing approaches we tend to utilize in our efforts.
Identify which character you MOST relate to. You may even notice all three tendencies in you or your spouse. Remember, if we can’t take ownership and accept where we are, we’ll never get where we want to go.
Am I inept at having a healthy relationship? Not at all, but my own defects of character certainly sabotaged my efforts. Mastery of anything, whether it’s a musical instrument, an athletic sport, a professional skill or a relationship takes time, patience and a willingness to stick to our goal even when the rewards don’t seem to come. Learning anything takes ongoing effort and practice even when you’re on a plateau where it seems nothing is happening.
In George Leonard’s book “Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment” he suggests the reason we tend to fail is our resistance to continuing on when our efforts don’t produce the immediate results we desire. We fail to recognize that mastery isn’t getting it right or having finally arrived, rather mastery is about the process or the journey. It’s about a willingness to get on the path and stick with it, even when it feels as if no progress is being made. In a culture of quick fixes and immediate gratification, the process of mastery is counter to what we’ve been taught to expect. Quick fixes and immediate gratification actually prevent us from developing the necessary skills for a solid relationship and threaten the stability of our families.
I spent far more time trying to master my guitar than I ever did trying to master my relationship with Stephanie. It was normal for me to spend at least an hour a day practicing scales and learning new music. Had I spent as much time developing relational skills, I can only imagine the profound impact it would’ve had on my marriage. What would’ve happened if Stephanie and I spent an hour a day practicing heartfelt listening or learning how to communicate concern and compassion during difficult conversations? What if we practiced the skill of communicating respect as we spoke with one another? Instead we assumed things would just work out and falsely believed that if they didn’t it was a failure on my mate’s part, not mine. I had yet to learn that my mate is never my problem; my mate only reveals the problem in me.
Leonard points out that growth is not a simple linear progression. As we try to master anything such as the guitar, a sport, or recovery from infidelity there are always plateaus where it seems no progress is being made. Learning occurs in stages and time is required for new knowledge to be integrated into our belief system. We’d love to be able to snap our fingers and have our spouse instantly get it, but it just doesn’t work that way. It’s not until we’ve practiced each new skill for months before it begins to feel natural. For mastery you have to continue intentionally practicing that new skill, working at perfecting your style, if you ever want to master it. If ground is to be gained, you must view the plateaus, not as a sign that you’re stuck, but as a necessary step to long-term change and integration. For mastery you have to practice diligently, but you practice primarily for the sake of the practice rather than getting frustrated while on a plateau. Leonard identifies three characters whom struggle with the road to mastery: the dabbler, the obsessive, and the hacker, who go through life and in our case here, recovery, their own way rather than choosing a course of mastery. See if you identify with any of these characters.
“The Dabbler” approaches each new sport, career, or relationship with enthusiasm and loves the first stage of starting something new. When they see spurts of progress or reward they are thrilled and can’t wait to show friends and family what they’ve accomplished. They’re the ones who can’t wait for the next lesson to continue their progress. The fall from that initial peak of growth shocks and disorients them. The plateaus of growth are unacceptable. For the dabbler, if you are not being rewarded by continued progress your enthusiasm will wane and boredom will set in. The dabbler specializes in the honeymoon stage and loves the feelings generated as they share their life story and the ensuing validation from their partner. When the excitement generated by first experiences begins to cool they begin looking around for something else. They are like an eternal kid, always looking for the next adventure or novelty, but though partners change they still remain the same.
“The Obsessive” is a bottom-line type of person who refuses to be second best. What’s important are quick results, and they’re constantly looking for the validation of how well they’ve done. In the beginning they are always reading books and attending seminars trying to achieve perfection at record pace. When the obsessive hits the inevitable plateau they simply redouble their efforts and may even be tempted to take shortcuts to get the desired results. Unlike the dabbler, when the passion in their marriage begins to cool they don’t look elsewhere, rather they try to maintain the passion at whatever the cost: extravagant gifts, romantic rendezvous, or erotic escalation. They see little reason for the plateau, and so the relationship swings back and forth between ecstasy and tragedy. The inevitable breakup results in a great deal of pain for both parties but does little in the way of learning and personal growth. When the obsessive is unable to maintain continual forward progress, the ensuing failure leaves them as well as their families hurt and ashamed that their efforts couldn’t save the relationship.
“The Hacker” has a different perspective. This person doesn’t mind the plateau; in fact they’re willing to stay on the plateau indefinitely. They lack the necessary drive to achieve mastery through long term dedication. They don’t mind skipping the necessary steps for mastery. Their interest lies in hanging out with other hackers. “Good enough” is their motto. They are the teachers and professionals who don’t bother with professional meetings because they’re just interested in getting by. At work they do the minimum requirements, always leaving on time and taking all of their breaks and they’re confused as to why they don’t get promoted. In marriage they tend to be content with living as roommates. They are willing to settle for static monogamy, an arrangement in which both partners have clearly defined and unchanging roles, and in which marriage is primarily an economic and domestic institution. While that may serve as an ideal situation in their mind, rarely do they marry someone who’s satisfied with that arrangement.
Lifelong commitments are never truly mastered in a lifetime. It’s not a matter of how well we’re doing, it’s a matter of how well we’re working at what we’re doing. The dabbler, the obsessive and the hacker have to learn life isn’t about getting it right. The real goal is to stay focused on doing it right and to commit to continually practice the process of relating to one another. The dabblers, along with the obsessives, need realistic expectations. Life isn’t about a continual series of peaks; there are always valleys and plateaus on the journey. In fact, there would be no peak without the valley. Mastery in marriage is about continuing to intentionally do the work even when it seems nothing is changing. Refusing to accept mediocrity is essential for the hacker. A great relationship is an outcome, not a goal. To develop a great relationship you have to practice the process. It’s about practicing the behavior of respect, communicating concern, and developing empathy for each other.
Of course one person rarely fits any one stereotype perfectly, and it’s possible to exhibit characteristics of all three. However for the sake of personal growth these categories can help you identify what may stand in the way on your path to personal or marital recovery. Hopefully, your goal is to figure out how to move down your own path with new momentum and new resolve for the process of healing.
Why Is the Passive Aggressive always the Victim?
The passive aggressive feels they are treated unfairly. The passive aggressive is always the victim of your unreasonable expectations, an over-bearing boss or that slow clerk at the convenience store.
Why Does the Passive Aggressive Play the Victim Role?
I find human behavior fascinating. Not only human behavior but the reasons behind the behavior. There is a pay-off for all of us when it comes to the way we conduct our self in life. If we weren’t getting something out of it, we wouldn’t be doing it. Simple huh? Simple until you become involved with a passive aggressive!
What is the pay-off for the passive aggressive who plays the victim? It is a ploy they use to turn the tables and make them appear to be the injured party. The passive aggressive knows something about the person they are intimately involved with. They know that most people involved with passive aggressives are empathetic, most are co-dependent and most don’t like the idea of others suffering…in other words they are very easily manipulated. That is the pay-off, being in a relationship that enables them to have the upper hand.
In What Ways Does Playing the Victim Pay-Off?
• If you are the “victim,” you don’t have to take responsibility for any problems in the relationship.
• If you are the “victim,” you don’t have to take responsibility for any bad behaviors.
A glaring example of the ploy used in his need to be the victim is how he dismisses people and then acts as if he is the injured party. For example, he refused their request for him to spend more time with them. In his skewed perception of reality, it was his wife’s place to maintain a relationship with him by engaging in activities he was interested in, and if she didn’t comply, he was the victim of her perceived neglect.
It did not occur to him that his refusal to allocate time for her, listen to her or show any interest in her life plainly showed him to be the victimizer, not the victim. His only concern was building his career and having an excuse for not including her in his life. What better excuse than being the victim of your wife’s abandonment? His new circle of family and friends don’t know his wife, don’t know the issues surrounding his desire for a divorce and you can bet, being passive aggressive means he once again surrounded himself with people who didn’t like to see others suffer.
His friends and new family see him, as the long-suffering man who “wishes” his relationship with his family could be different. He tells them that he will always be there for his children if they ever seek him out for a relationship. Just imagine the out-pouring of sympathy he gets? It keeps him from having to accept responsibility for his behavior toward his wife and helps him hold onto the wounded, good guy image that is important to many passive aggressives.
How do You Keep From Becoming the Victim of a Victimizer?
Get rid of self-doubt. If you are in a relationship with a passive aggressive the manipulation is meant to cause you to doubt what you do, what you hear, what you see and what you experience. If you give into the manipulative ploys of the passive aggressive, you will soon not know which end is up. Somewhere inside is the nagging voice that something isn’t right. Do not ignore that voice!
• Don’t make excuses for bad behavior.
• Don’t feel guilt if your passive aggressive doesn’t like the boundaries you’ve set.
• Don’t allow anyone to disregard your emotional needs or doubt that you have a right your needs be met.
• Don’t accept a refusal to communicate about marital problems.
• Don’t settle for less than you want from your spouse.
* Don’t make yourself responsible for his/her hurtful words and actions.
True Love vs Romanticism
By Richard Reynolds, LCSW
I don't know if you've ever had the pleasure of watching the movie "The Princess Bride", but it is one of my favorite movies. There is nothing better than watching a movie about "True Love." It's a story of how Wesley and Buttercup overcome adversity for the sake of "True Love" in order to be united in a blissful union. In one of my favorite scenes, as Wesley heads off to storm the castle to rescue his beloved Buttercup, Miracle Max and his wife Valerie yell after them, "Have fun storming the castle boys!" She then turns to her husband and asks, "Do you think it will work?" "It would take a miracle," he replies.
Our souls resonate with the theme expressed in the movie. We long to experience what Westley and Buttercup portray. We relentlessly pursue what we don't have in an attempt to obtain what we believe will finally fulfill our desires and make us complete.
Our only problem is that it never works. What we call "true love" is based on a concept called romanticism. Romanticism is based on the dynamic of two individuals longing to be together, but who are separated by life's circumstances. Romanticism can only apply to love outside of marriage, and the ingredients always consist of secrecy and mystery (such as the stolen glances or secret opportunities). Romanticized relationships, therefore, have a premarital or extra-marital association. Poets rarely write of the romantic love of marriage, the care required for children, or the mutuality of love in old age. Romanticized love, by its own definition, is something "beyond" or "out of this world" which cannot be contained in the defined walls of a marriage. The theme never differs; it is always the same song with a different verse. Consider the great romantic plots through the ages, such as Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, or movies like “The Notebook” or “Pretty Woman.” There are endless examples, all with the same theme of two individuals searching for the fulfillment of love, longing to be together, but whose efforts are tragically foiled by circumstances. Even more telling is what happens at the end of these stories, when they finally manage to come together. They live happily ever after. After what? The curtain falls, the music plays, and the story ends.
At best, relationships based on romanticism are immature and unrealistic. Indeed, they contain intense emotions, but they are not about mature, lasting love. Instead they are based on wanting what I don't have and the sacrifices I'm willing to make to get what I want. They are not based on what's in the best interest of another; they are based on what I believe I need in order to be happy. In the end, this romanticism is incredibly and unequivocally selfish.
While romanticism is based on wanting what you don't have, marriage is based on having what you don't always want. There always comes a point in marital relationships where we are wounded or disappointed by our mate, and it's not until that moment that we have the opportunity to really love another.
Until that moment, love is based on the belief that you can complete me; being with you will result in happiness and fulfillment for me. But after that moment, when hope is crushed and I've abandoned my illusion that you are what I need, then my love (if I'm able to love) becomes something more mature and divine. It’s the opportunity for my love to become less about me and what I want, and more about truly choosing the other person. Love is selfless and will continue to act in the best interest of the other even when it doesn’t immediately benefit me or bring instant gratification. I know the difference between romanticism, making everything about me, and love. Love is compassionate and concerned for others instead.
So if romanticism seeks “true love,” which is nothing more than a selfish desire to have my needs met, I believe the real goal in marriage is to “truly love.” To truly love your spouse requires sacrifice. It requires you to be for them even when it feels they are against you. It requires you to choose them when they don’t deserve it. It requires you to care more about saving the relationship than winning the argument. Above all, it requires selflessness.
One key to gratifying and enduring love is equity. When equity exists a couples chances for sustained and satisfying companionate love are good. Mutually sharing self and possessions, making decisions together, giving and getting emotional support, promoting and caring about each other’s welfare – all of these acts are at the core of a real love relationship.
Truly loving another is the most difficult thing we can do, and it’s completely counter-cultural, but with practice over time it will lead to a more fulfilling relationship than you’ve probably ever known. Truly loving your spouse does not include enabling poor choices or remaining in unsafe situations. By the grace of God we do have the ability to forgive and the ability to "truly love” our spouse. My prayer is for you to experience the true love that comes when you least deserve it.
Activity: Intimacy can grow from pausing to ponder and write our feelings. Spend 20 minutes a day over three days writing your deepest thoughts and feelings about your relationship.
Dictionary.com defines ambiguous as, “lack of information regarding feelings or intentions. If your spouse’s behaviors are ambiguous, you are constantly receiving mixed messages. More than likely you spend a great amount of time trying to figure out what was meant by certain words or actions.
Ambiguity is often a trait you will find in a passive aggressive person. The passive aggressive does harm by consistently failing to honestly express what they are feeling and thinking. It is impossible to work through conflicts with someone who sends unclear and insufficient information.
Being in a relationship with someone who either can’t or won’t open up and be honest about how they are feeling or what they think will leave you anxiously wondering what your spouse’s intentions are. You end up either doubting yourself or questioning your spouse’s commitment to the relationship. Below are a few examples of ambiguous behaviors.
• John is a very affectionate husband. He holds Jane’s hand and cuddles with her on the couch. Get John in the bedroom though it is hands off. He is all over Jane in the kitchen but doesn’t seem to even realize she is sharing the same bed with him. John is sending Jane ambiguous, mixed messages. Jane begins to feel paranoid. Why does he not want sex with me? Is he having sex with another woman? More than likely John is faithful to his marriage but having conflicting feelings toward his wife. He can’t come out and express his negative feelings honestly so he expresses them by rejecting her sexually. Instead of opening up about his negative feelings and finding a solution that will strengthen the relationship, John is subconsciously choosing to deal with his negative emotions by punishing Jane. Not only are his negative feelings damaging the relationship but the way he deals with those feelings does further damage.
• June is upset with Jake over an unkind remark he made to her. June tells Jake that her feelings were hurt when he told her the house was not tidy enough and she spent her days wasting time. Jake reacts to June by saying, “fine” and walking away. June is left to wonder what “fine” means. Does it mean Jake will no longer make unkind remarks? Does it mean that Jake could care less whether her feelings were hurt or not? June has no way of knowing whether she was heard by Jake or whether or not her feelings are important to Jake. June will naturally begin to make assumptions about Jakes feelings for her and you can bet that those assumptions will be negative.
Jill and Joe have been talking about buying a new car for several months. Joe wants to buy Jill a car and Jill has a definite opinion about what car she wants. One day Joe comes home with a new car. Not the car Jill wanted but a car Joe felt was more appropriate. Joe was willing to discuss what kind of car they would buy but when it came to making the final decision, he shut Jill out. He has sent Jill the message that although she can have an opinion, in the end those opinions weren’t of any value to Joe.
The one thing common in all three examples is the devaluation of feelings by a spouse. A spouse whose behaviors are ambiguous not only devalues their own feelings they devalue those of their spouse. When a spouse begins to feel his/her thoughts or opinions are of no value they begin to withdraw from the relationship. They are, after all in a relationship with someone who doesn’t seem to care so why should they care.
What do Passive Aggressive behavior and domestic abuse have in common? When someone hits you or yells at you, you know that you've been abused. It is obvious and easily identified. Covert abuse is subtle and veiled or disguised by actions that appear to be normal, at times loving and caring. The passive aggressive person is a master at covert abuse and, as a result can be considered an abuser.
Passive aggressive behavior stems from an inability to express anger in a healthy way. A person's feelings may be so repressed that they don't even realize they are angry or feeling resentment. A passive aggressive can drive people around him/her crazy and seem sincerely dismayed when confronted with their behavior. Due to their own lack of insight into their feelings the passive aggressive often feels that others misunderstand them or, are holding them to unreasonable standards if they are confronted about their behavior.
Common Passive Aggressive Behaviors:
• Ambiguity: I think of the proverb, "Actions speak louder than words" when it comes to the passive aggressive and how ambiguous they can be. They rarely mean what they say or say what they mean. The best judge of how a passive aggressive feels about an issue is how they act. Normally they don't act until after they've caused some kind of stress by their ambiguous way of communicating.
• Forgetfulness: The passive aggressive avoids responsibility by "forgetting." How convenient is that? There is no easier way to punish someone than forgetting that lunch date or your birthday or, better yet, an anniversary.
Blaming: They are never responsible for their actions. If you aren't to blame then it is something that happened at work, the traffic on the way home or the slow clerk at the convenience store. The passive aggressive has no faults, it is everyone around him/her who has faults and they must be punished for those faults.
• Lack of Anger: He/she may never express anger. There are some who are happy with whatever you want. On the outside anyway! The passive aggressive person may have been taught, as a child, that anger is unacceptable. Hence they go through life stuffing their anger, being accommodating and then sticking it to you in an under-handed way.
• Fear of Dependency: From Scott Wetlzer, author of Living With The Passive Aggressive Man. "Unsure of his autonomy and afraid of being alone, he fights his dependency needs, usually by trying to control you. He wants you to think he doesn't depend on you, but he binds himself closer than he cares to admit. Relationships can become battle grounds, where he can only claim victory if he denies his need for your support."
Fear of Intimacy: The passive aggressive often can't trust. Because of this, they guard themselves against becoming intimately attached to someone. A passive aggressive will have sex with you but they rarely make love to you. If they feel themselves becoming attached, they may punish you by withholding sex.
Obstructionism: Do you want something from your passive aggressive spouse? If so, get ready to wait for it or maybe even never get it. It is important to him/her that you don’t get your way. He/she will act as if giving you what you want is important to them but, rarely will he/she follow through with giving it. It is very confusing to have someone appear to want to give to you but never follow through. You can begin to feel as if you are asking too much which is exactly what he/she wants to you to feel.
• Victimization: The passive aggressive feels they are treated unfairly. If you get upset because he or she is constantly late, they take offense because; in their mind, it was someone else's fault that they were late. He/she is always the innocent victim of your unreasonable expectations, an over-bearing boss or that slow clerk at the convenience store.
• Procrastination: The passive aggressive person believes that deadlines are for everyone but them. They do things on their own time schedule and be damned anyone who expects differently from them.
The Passive Aggressive and You:
The passive aggressive needs to have a relationship with someone who can be the object of his or her hostility. They need someone whose expectations and demands he/she can resist. A passive aggressive is usually attracted to co-dependents, people with low self-esteem and those who find it easy to make excuses for other's bad behaviors.
The biggest frustration in being with a passive aggressive is that they never follow through on agreements and promises. He/she will dodge responsibility for anything in the relationship while at the same time making it look as if he/she is pulling his/her own weight and is a very loving partner. The sad thing is, you can be made to believe that you are loved and adored by a person who is completely unable to form an emotional connection with anyone.
The passive aggressive ignores problems in the relationship, sees things through their own skewed sense of reality and if forced to deal with the problems will completely withdraw from the relationship and you. They will deny evidence of wrong doing, distort what you know to be real to fit their own agenda, minimize or lie so that their version of what is real seems more logical.
The Three Main Causes of Divorce By John Lightener
I often hear people say they are divorcing due to infidelity or "growing apart, or better yet, "I fell out of love." I've often wondered if these people who cheat, grow in a different direction or fall out of love ever think about what got them there in the first place: to the point of divorce.
How or better yet, why do people go from happily married to divorced? Something happens between these two points and it has very little to do with infidelity or falling out of love and everything to do with the two people who are a party to the marriage.
The Major Causes of Divorce:
Laziness: People don't want to work at marriage. There is a misguided belief that marriage will make us happy. As if marriage is a separate entity, something outside ourselves that will survive and thrive with little input from a husband and wife. Women plan huge weddings; throw bridal showers and go into marriage not having any idea what marriage is. Men find a woman to care for, adore and work to take care of and to take care of him, only to find himself married to someone who wants more of his time and attention and then a little more after that. What happens when both become disillusioned with their marriage? They start looking outside themselves to define the problems in the marriage instead of looking at the situation and asking, "What can I do to make things better?" Blame seems to be the path of least resistance. It is easier to blame a spouse or marriage in general than to take responsibility for how they are living inside their marriage and what possible changes they may need to make that will allow a marriage to flourish. People are too lazy to do the self-exploration, learn better relationship skills and put the needed personal effort into a marriage. Bottom line, marriage takes hard work.
Lack of Communication Skills:
Pure and simple, people don't know how to talk to each other and they know even less about listening. The most important conversations people have are with a spouse yet they put so little effort into wisely expressing their feelings and openly listening to their spouse.
It is also common for spouses to want to avoid conversation they fear will cause them or their spouse pain. If you can't communicate, you can't solve marital problems. The easiest way to build trust in a marital relationship is via open and honest communication skills. If TALKING and LISTENING don't become a habit there is little hope.
High Expectations: As Sam Walton said, "High expectations are the key to everything” unless of course we are talking about marriage. Expectations and laziness can go hand in hand when it comes to predicting whether a marriage will end in divorce. That woman you married probably also has very high expectations of marriage. Men and women both make a lot of assumptions when it comes to marriage and what to expect from a marriage. These assumptions are based on many variables and problems arise when the outcome (marriage) doesn't meet the assumptions or expectations. Marital expectations rarely align with the realities of what life is like inside marriage. You see, this is where communication and expectations play a role in the outcome of marriages. Communication before marriage can keep down any unrealistic expectations one may have of marriage.
In conclusion, it is my belief that divorce is not about infidelity or unhappiness. Divorce can be and is avoided by those willing to work hard at marriage, those who know how to effectively communicate and those whose expectations are realistic.
Nine times out of ten if a husband or wife cheats they cheat as a result of problems in the marriage. All of these problems could have been solved if the work had been done. The same goes for those who say they "grew apart" or, "fell out of love". Marriages have to be nurtured, if not they fall victim to a myriad of problems. Are you nurturing your marriage? Before throwing in the towel make sure you have done everything to fix what is broken.
Do You Really Want a Divorce? by Mary Jane Steed L.C.S.W.
For those who want a divorce or, feel that divorce is the only solution for their marital problems, time can be an enemy. Based on some statistics, as time goes by, you will begin to realize you probably shouldn’t have divorced your spouse.
There may be some initial gratification but how will you feel five or ten years down the road? Will you regret not putting more effort into solving marital problems? In a survey, 66% of divorced couples asked that question responded with, “yes.” On The Family Impact Analysis of Covenant Marriage 40% of participants believe that divorce was the wrong choice for their marriages.
According to Dr. Laura, “Scientific literature suggests that a good three quarters of people who divorce regret it. Maybe not immediately, but 10 years later, they do. "I should never have done it" is the kind of thing usually uttered privately after a divorce. And after the papers have been signed, the property divided, the child custody settled, and the emotional pain still lingering, it's usually too late to go back.”
That is a lot of regret and broken marriages/families! And it is something to think about before pulling the trigger on your marriage.
What Are The Biggest Regrets of Those Who Divorce?
1. The financial impact can be devastating. The reality of how much it cost to divorce can be a shock and once the ball is rolling it is hard to turn back. After the divorce is final and you’ve spent your children’s college funds on attorney’s fees you then have to support two households. The same amount of pre-divorce income doesn’t go as far as post-divorce income when trying to keep up two households.
2. You become aware of the fact that children aren’t as resilient as you’ve been led to believe. Divorce threatens every aspect of a child’s foundation no matter how old they are, and they won’t deal with it any easier than you will. The effect on adult children is even more profound than that of younger children.
3. Your family home will probably need to be sold which forces your children out of the home they love, the neighborhood their friends reside in. Not to mention that one parent, either mom or dad will be spending less time with the children. That alone can cause deep wounds and less bonding with a parent.
In other words, divorce is a big emotional blow to your children, one most parents find hard to reconcile.
4. I’ve heard it said that it takes three years to recover from a divorce. Let’s face it though; most people are searching for or, in a new marriage within two years of divorce. Loneliness and financial strain motivate most to begin looking for a new partner shortly after their divorce is final. That means your focus isn’t on healing but on moving on to something new.
5. Here is the problem, if you don’t take the time to heal and address your role in the demise of your last marriage, you will take those same issues into your next marriage. You may find yourself just as unhappy in your next marriage as you were in your last. In my consulting practice I’ve often had clients ask me, “Why didn’t I try harder to make the first one work?”
6. And let us not forget love. Distance really can make the “heart grow fonder.” The longer you are away from that spouse who drove you crazy, the more attractive they may become.
7. The pain of regret after divorce can be long-lasting, especially when you consider the life-long impact divorce has on children. Divorce may be your only recourse in some situations. If your marriage is abusive or your spouse suffers from addictions, you have no other option.
8. If, however, these are not present in your marriage make sure you don’t allow impatience with marital problems to cause you to make a choice you will one day regret.
Anger and the Passive Aggressive.
I’m about to fill you in on a little secret. Anger plays a role in passive aggressive behavior. Yep, that passive aggressive spouse that is driving you insane is angry as hell and full of grief. The passive aggressive deals with anger in one of two ways. Either they have no control over their anger or they have problems expressing their anger.
Anger Out Of Control:
How we handle our anger comes from lessons learned during childhood through our family of origin. Below is an example of an early childhood experience that will produce an adult who expresses their anger passive aggressively.
The little girl who grows up in a family with an alcoholic parent learns that the only way to get her needs met is to throw a tantrum. Mom or Dad is too invested in their addiction to put the little girl's needs first. She grows into a woman who caries the belief that if she wants something out of a relationship the only way to get it is to act in an aggressive manner.
Some children learn through their family of origin to become so passive that they allow others to walk all over them. They bend over backwards to please their spouse, keeping their own desires a secret and internalizing any anger they feel. Below are examples of early childhood experiences that produce adults who don’t know how to express anger.
• The little boy whose mother never shows love or affection. His mother is so emotionally closed off that not only does she not show love and affection, she doesn’t allow any expressions of anger. She avoids both the pleasant and unpleasant aspects of being a mother and raises a boy who becomes a man who is also emotionally closed off.
• The little girl whose father is too busy or too afraid to show her love and caring. Her father works long hours. When he is home, he sits in front of the computer or television. When the little girl seeks his attention, she is scolded and learns that asking for what she needs means being reprimanded. She learns that getting her father’s attention means being a good little girl. She grows into an adult who is angry over her needs not being met but too afraid to express that anger.
Adults who have no control over their anger and those who have no idea how to express their anger are grieving. They are grieving the loss of something that was rightfully theirs; their right to entertain themselves regardless of societies or their parent’s beliefs of what was right or wrong. The right to be heard and cared for regardless of how addicted a parent was to alcohol or drugs. They are grieving the right to express love or negative feelings or a desire for parental attention without fear of punishment.
It is about loss, the loss of normal things any child should expect from a parent. Instead of grieving that loss in a normal way, they internalize it and compensate by being overly aggressive or overly passive. The grief shows itself in behaviors that are destructive to themselves and anyone who engages in a relationship with them.
A man who abuses his wife is often motivated by feelings of loss and grief. Feelings are expressed through rage. Women who emotionally manipulate their husband by withholding affection are motivated by the same feelings of loss and grief.
The aggression or passivity hides their fear of rejection and helplessness when it comes to getting what they need from their spouse. The spouse is left reeling and wondering what he/she did to deserve a slap across the face or the withholding of normal loving affection.
The spouse feels responsible in some way. That is the sneaky thing about living with a passive aggressive individual. They don’t know how to properly express anger but they are geniuses when it comes to shifting the blame and projecting their own bad behavior off onto their spouse.
Next time you are trying to make sense of some nonsensical behavior by your spouse remember you are dealing with a wounded, damaged child. Don’t make excuses for him/her. Don’t take responsibility for their inability to properly express their grief and anger. Understanding why someone acts the way they do does not mean excusing their hurtful actions.
Knowledge is power. Learning what is behind the actions of your spouse will enable you to make an informed decision about how to interact in the future.
If you've ever wondered why someone would attack you verbally, you're asking the basic confusing question of why the world is the way it is.
A very wise man said (and though I've heard it many times before, this time when I heard it on Sunday afternoon, it really hit me):
"An attack is a cry for love."
So if your wife strikes out at you, then, yeah, you know somewhere deep inside herself she's starved for love. And you know that it pretty much has nothing to do with you. It's just that you were the one who triggered her.
And if we attack back, or close down, explain ourselves, explain things, defend ourselves - we miss the opportunity. We miss the opportunity to act with compassion and love in the moment, instead of responding with hurt and offensiveness and taking it all personally, and then either "letting her have it" later, or making excuses for her bad behavior.
Our instincts are to strike out at her - at any one - when we feel threatened, or frightened or offended, or disturbed. When we feel out of control we want to strike out and want to strike back. We want to master the situation. In other words, we're crying out for love, too.
And... she can't hear our cry for love, either. she only feels her own lack of safety and needs to strike out, strike back, get her balance back. So this is what fear does to us. This is what our traumatic histories have left us:
In an endless place of feeling as though the rug is being pulled out from under us, and that love is like a fine mist that just dissipates and disappears and blows away.
If we can learn to hear with new ears, and find love and compassion BEFORE we react with fear and habit, what we get is peace and more love. And in that peace and love... we find that our urge to DO SOMETHING fights with our urge to DO NOTHING!
It's hard to sink into a do-nothing place, because when something's going bad around you, you want to fix it!
We ALL do! We want to "answer back." We want to "straighten things out." We want to MASTER the situation.
So, if you're ever feeling "mowed over" by someone, try this:
1 Take this position: People really want to be loving. They just have learned ways to speak in a loud voice that is very different from the way you learned to speak - in a soft voice.
2 Feeling Messages are the key to this next step:
Start by saying...."(put person's name here) - I hear you, and I feel triggered."
"It feels like the way I used to feel when people in my life yelled at me."
"I know you are not yelling at me, but it feels like that."
"So, I know it's MY stuff, and yet, I wonder if we're meant to interact this way so we both learn something?"
"I feel I'm hearing a message, though I don't know what to do with it. I'll just try to listen and see what's going on for me...."
Then, See what she says.
If what she's saying still feels to you like an attack, then...
Just repeat yourself!
Say exactly what you said in Step 2.
Try "Taking Turns"
If you're worried about her - if you think she's attacking because she's feeling attacked and mightily triggered - you can help the situation tremendously by "taking turns" being triggered.
You can do this by letting her go first if she gets triggered first, and then teaching her by EXAMPLE how to "hang" with YOU when YOU'RE triggered.
Just do your best to stay in your feelings, stay aware of what's going on, and stay away from acting defensively.
If she starts talking, you can say "Tell me more..."
You can even ask "Are you okay?"
You can heal a relationship and a situation by not reacting defensively to whatever she does or says while she's being triggered.
This healing happens if you can do your best to not react with an attack, and yet not ignore it and act like everything's okay when it isn't.
Once you acknowledge that you've been triggered - that you have feelings, and that what's happening doesn't feel good - and asked her what she'd like to do to make things better, you open the door to a great relationship.
Sometimes, owning YOUR side of whatever's happened -- if you forgot the "4 Steps" and said or did something she'd consider disrespectful or controlling - apologizing is the most powerful thing you can do!
Try all these things and see what happens!
Now into my 50's I have things to share, insights to give, and advice that might help you avoid the pitfalls I have already found. Some posts are articles that have been helpful to me and others are my own thoughts and feelings on a particular topic. May your life be full of happiness!