Jamie and I got in a blowout fight last week. It was the kind of thing that ends up with one of you sleeping in the spare bedroom, cuddling with the dog. I finally understand the meaning of being in the doghouse.
As usual, in the rational light of day, I realized that my end of the argument was overboard. It all comes back to this crippling insecurity I still have, even after 34 years of life on this planet and ten years with this man I love so very much.
In truth, I wouldn’t want to imagine a life without him. Even now, as I write this, we aren’t talking because the bad feelings of our argument are still burning hot. However, even with this angsty feeling sitting between the two of us, I still can’t imagine my life without him. He has given me two beautiful children and a home and those sparkling diamond earrings that I never wear in fear that I might lose them.
After ten years of marriage, I know that this fight isn’t going to break us. We’ve had worse. We’ve dealt with rougher emotional blows than we did over this tiff. But what I did discover from the argument was something that has never occurred to me before. Marriage has taught me how to live with and love another person so earnestly. There is no other option but to love him. He’s seen too much. If I were to let him go now, he’d be a liability.
I realize that, in fact, I’ve spent so much time working on this marriage of mine, learning how to love this person and grow with him, I’ve forgotten how to love myself as an individual.
I think about the lessons I’ve learned over the years from my marriage, and I wonder if I can somehow implement them into my most important relationship — with myself.
A self-love lesson plan, if you will.
Because these arguments and emotional blowouts won’t stop until I can learn to grow within my own mental wellbeing the same way I’ve grown in my marriage.
Holding in the feelings never works.
It’s the simplest thing for me to yell at my husband. I need to get these feelings out. He calmly listens to me rage on like an angry three-year-old who isn’t happy with the way her snow pants fit, and then once I show signs of tuckering out, he tells me how he feels.
It took us a good five years to learn how to do this. We were famous for getting angry about something and allowing that anger to brew until bubbly. Then one day, we realized how good it feels to talk. Or, more succinctly, in our case, yell our problems out to one another.
I want to learn how to do that with myself. Why can’t I admit to myself that I’m feeling frumpy and less than? Why do I insist on plastering on makeup and burying the very real feelings of inadequacy that are just below the surface?
It should be mandatory for every person to go to counselling at least once in their life. Learn how to let those weird and uncomfortable feelings we have about ourselves out and start dealing with them in the rational light of day.
Even though honesty can hurt, it really is the best policy.
I hate being told I am wrong. I want to be the kind of person who is right all of the time, and nobody even second-guesses me because they think, “oh, don’t need to worry about fact-checking that little tidbit, because as we all know, Lindsay is always right.” Except that would never happen because I am wrong quite often, actually.
Jamie used to let me believe that I was the smartest person on the planet, but he doesn’t anymore. He’s had enough of my shit, I guess. He calls me out on my crap all of the time. And although it hurts like a son-of-a-gun, sometimes, it has helped me grow and mature in our relationship. It teaches me that I can’t get away with the usual malarky anymore. Throwing temper tantrums at 34 years old isn’t very becoming.
Now, if only I could start being as honest with myself as my husband is with me. By constantly pushing aside the genuine inadequacy feelings that have been cropping up in those deep down reaches of my psyche, I’m only avoiding the inevitable.
It’s time to boss-up and get down to brass tax with myself.
It’s going to be okay.
This is my favourite lesson I’ve learned throughout my marriage because it’s vague and noncommittal — just like me. It is going to be okay. It’s taken me so long to learn this. At the beginning of our marriage, I worried over every little thing.
I wondered if I said something dumb, he too would be thinking of it days later. I got anxiety sweats anytime we had to have a family dinner because I wondered if I’d line up to his family’s expectations of me.
But the great thing about growing with another person is that you learn to anticipate their worries and anxieties too. I realized that he was having the same anxieties. I noticed how his demeanour would slightly change when he’d be having a beer with my dad. It was the same way my tone of voice would take on this weird cheery, bubbly octave every time I’d bring the kids over to see his mom.
After a while, it occurred to us that we were going to be okay. We didn’t have to try this hard to be people we weren’t.
I realize that my social anxieties and insecurities aren’t going to magically disappear by telling myself that it’s going to be okay. Man alive, I wish I had that kind of potential for delusion. But what I know is that by taking these techniques I’ve used to build a strong marriage over the last ten years and employing them to address my personal mental health issues, I can begin traversing this road of healing within myself.
Marriage is an ongoing and active process. Sure there will be setbacks and arguments. Moments when you find yourself in the doghouse and are unsure how long you’ll be stuck for. But turning the tables and taking a magnifying glass to our own mental health can often be the most beneficial thing we can do for our relationships.
It is the process of healing ourselves so we can bring rational and level-headed thinking to our marriage and our everyday lives.
Previously published on medium
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