EXPLORING MORE OF WHY COUPLES ARGUE
Who Do We Marry? And, why? When marriages fall apart, the resentments often sound like this:
“ . . . He was as self-involved as my father and they both mostly put their own needs before mine. How was I blind to their similarities”? . . .
“. . . She didn’t ‘get’ me, just like my mother didn’t ‘get’ me. Both shamed and criticized me. How was I blind to their similarities”?
Are We Blind? One of the dark truths about falling in love is that we’re actually not blind to the similarities between those who hurt us as children, and the person who we marry. To the contrary! It’s the very presence of similarities that draws us together in the first place!
Hope and Dread in Our Relationships:
- We fall in love with people who have the potential to hurt us in the same way we were once hurt by a parent. The dark truth about falling in love is that part of falling includes an unconscious fear of injury from the new lover—an injury that’s a repetition of old, familiar injuries—we “anticipate” that our new partner will repeat those old injuries. Even though we don’t want the repetition of old injuries, we dread that they will be repeated, inevitably. Unconsciously, we dread we’ll be hurt again.
- We also fall in love with people we believe have the potential to heal us. In addition to dreading the repetition of old injures, we unconsciously hope our new lover will also refrain from injuring us in the old familiar way. Instead, we hope he or she will make up for past injuries with special care and attentiveness. We wish and hope that with our new lover, we’ll find the transformed injuring parent from “one who” inflicted pain, to “one who” healed pain.
Marital Problems: This group of three: the one we fall in love with and marry, the old, unhealed injuries, and the wish for transformation—this interconnected three-some is at the heart of most marital problems. And it’s why most couples fight the same fight over and over again.
Fighting the Same Fight: When we argue with our spouse in repetitive fighting, we’re trying to transform them from “the one” who injures, to “the one” who heals. We’ve stopped seeing our spouse. Instead, see the old injuring party standing in front of us. We’re trying to transform them. Show them how they’ve wounded us. Enable them to make amends. We’re looking to heal old wounds that remained open through the years, flaring up in the presence of someone who reminds us of the original injuring parent.
Fixing the Repetitious Arguments. Repairing marital conflict and closing the growing gap between the partners is satisfying work. It includes deepening your understanding of the marriage and learning how both you and your partner are injured. It focuses on using mutual love, respect, and innate compassion to help both partners with their healing.
Marriage Counseling is a Process. Couples work is careful, balanced, non-judgmental and respectful. It’s a process that starts where the partners are at and brings them back to an aliveness and compassion for self and other.