Uncover the Hidden Traumas Impacting Your Relationship
Probably everyone has some kind of trauma. It doesn’t have to be war-related and eligible for a PTSD diagnosis. More subtle trauma comes from childhood experiences when we were too young to speak up for ourselves, and so we were hurt. Most of us don’t realize we have injuries until we are in our marriage and our partner unknowingly reactivates these old hurts.
You might wonder, “Why does he (or she) get so upset?” Or, “Why do I react so dramatically?” It could be an upset about coming home late, or spending too much money, or not cleaning up after making a mess. Any of these kinds of concerns are reasonable and can be discussed and negotiated in a calm conversation. It is when these behaviors touch old wounds that comes from our experiences with our parents that we become overwhelmed and irrational.
This is why it is so important to be able to share with our partner our sensitivities. We may not initially understand their origin, but the connection can become clear as you talk about them together. Then you can ask for the behaviors you need to help each of you heal these sensitivities.
Learning together where these intense feelings come from, and gaining the support of our partner to heal these old injuries, creates emotional support that adds lasting appreciation and closeness to your relationship. We teach you how to do this in our Falling in Love Forever course.
The challenge for a couple is not that you have emotional sensitivities. That is simply being human. The angry reaction to the present version of the past injury creates the upset. This dynamic may not show up for a couple of years. It takes a while to become so close that you are familiar. The word “familiar” comes from the word “family.” You become so close as a couple that when one of you duplicates a hurtful behavior that is reminiscent of a hurt by a member of your childhood family, there is a strong emotional reaction. We revert to our younger selves and react badly.
For Michael, any kind of criticism from me is heard as an echo of his mom’s criticism. She surely loved him, but he didn’t feel her softness until his later adult years. It is very important to Michael that if I want something or if I am unhappy with something, I speak calmly and without negative words. When our lives got intense with dual careers and children, my tone could become cranky and negative, and that just took us down a dark path. We had to learn what we now teach our couples.
My sensitivities are in the arena of loss. My mother divorced my father, and he left my life when I was two years old. I get upset when I lose anything, even an earring. I can get anxious when I don’t hear from Michael when I know his airplane landed an hour ago. That is just one small example. When I figured out why I get so hyper and crazy, it was a simple request to ask Michael to call me when his plane landed. It wasn’t as easy before phones became wireless, but Michael understood and was happy to find a phone.
This kind of caring brings a couple close. These conversations are intimate and enlightening. Why would you not want to give your partner the healing behavior that corrects their childhood injury? Come join us and learn these skills to bring deeper love and appreciation to your marriage.