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In one of my previous relationships I got to the destructive stage that I counsel so many people away from. From mutual love and respect, we descended into arguments, petty jealousies and utter chaos. We even descended into arguing over wine glasses and plants out in the garden.
Looking back on it now, I feel a sense of shame at what happened, and regret that neither of us were able to take a step back and do what was right for both of us instead of both of us only thinking of ourselves. The environment descended to the point where I felt physically sick at the thought of going home. I would have to stop the car as I drove into my street, and spend a couple of minutes gathering my thoughts and trying my best not to let my feelings overwhelm me and be sick.
I was talking to a client last week and they were going through the same thing, and in the process of them describing their feelings it brought it all back to me.
In the midst of the drama and uncertainty when your marriage is in crisis, we forget how sick we make each other when we fight. We fight about the most unusual and silly things, and for many, the trivial fights can be an outlet for the greater frustration and heartache that we are feeling.
But to understand what motivates people to do this, we need to understand that it is about much more than plants and wine glasses. It is about self-esteem, hurt feelings, lost love, lack of control over what is happening, and much more.
In order to heal, we need to make a conscious effort to not let ourselves descend to that level, to not respond to the taunts and accusations, and not let our partners bring out the worst in us. Take responsibility for the things you say and always question where each comment is taking you.
Chances are if the fighting makes you feel sick, your partner is feeling the same way. It’s okay to not be in control of the situation between you and your partner, but it’s not okay to not be in control of your emotions and reactions to the situation.
- Think about your action/reaction
- Widen your scope. Where is your comment taking you?
- What are you reacting to?
- Resist temptation
- Respond with love
It’s about resisting the temptation to lose control and make the situation worse. Your ability to do this could be what determines the success of your marriage.