Dave was a big-shot commercial developer. Multimillion-dollar deals and big financial risks.
Yet at home, he was risk-averse, often crippled by the slightest rejection from his wife.
In 15 years of coaching married men, I’ve seen this dynamic of financial success and marital failure in a man many times. But with Dave, it was extreme.
His wife didn’t seem to care about how he killed it at work. At home, she rebuffed him emotionally and sexually.
Do you struggle with rejection from your wife?
“What’s the hardest part of this for you?“ I asked Dave.
“The sting,” he said. “Of her rejection. I feel it so deeply.”
Dave paused and took a deep breath before telling me something he didn’t want to admit.
“I don’t know. I feel like a failure, lost, kind of like, dare I say, a little boy.”
Dave was a clear case of how a man can kill it in the world but in the deep intimacy zone of marriage, he would regress.
Do you regress in the face of your wife’s rejection?
“How old is that little boy?” I asked.
He paused for a few moments. “I think he’s… six.”
“So you have a six-year-old running your marriage?”
“I guess so,” he said. “Holy shit.” A light bulb went off in his head.
“Do you think your wife is attracted to you when you act like you’re six?”
He shook his head. “Of course not.”
What age are you running your marriage from?
Time and again, I see successful, grown men running their marriages with a young boy’s emotional reactivity.
In their book, The King Within, Accessing The King In The Male Psyche, by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, the authors speak to this inner dynamic as repetition compulsion.
“By a psychological mechanism termed ‘repetition compulsion,’ our unconscious compels us, even in adulthood, to repeat the childhood traumas we suffered at the hands of our parents.
“We recapitulate the same relational patterns imprinted on us when we were young before we had any Ego structure to speak of and before we had developed any defensible psychological boundaries.”
Do you unconsciously repeat childhood patterns in your marriage?
Who doesn’t? The paradox is that once a man accesses the boy, he steps on the path to becoming a strong and confident man with his partner.
Over the course of several months of coaching, Dave started to understand how he could not let a six-year-old run his marriage.
When he did, he was crushed by his wife’s rejection. And when he didn’t, he could be strong, resilient, and loving.
How can you be stronger in the face of your partner’s rejection?
In the video below, discover 3 ways men buckle in the fear of their partner’s rejection and what you can do instead to build inner strength, resilience, and the relationship you seek.
“The child is the father of the man,” William Wordsworth once said.
Once a man learns to be in relationship with the boy within, he can direct his outer relationship with his wife more confidently and skillfully.
He doesn’t put it on his partner’s plate to take care of that boy. This lifts a huge burden off of her.
In a few months, the sting of rejection was not so overwhelming for Dave. He could stand strong with his wife in a way that he hadn’t before.
This put him in a position to own his part in his marital problems, get past his fear of rejection, and create the marriage he wanted.
Are you ready to get past rejection and create the relationship you seek?
Previously Published on stuartmotola.com and is republished on Medium.
Photo credit: iStock