I want you to imagine the following couple of scenarios for just a minute.
You wake up and amazingly you feel refreshed. As you lay there, a tension rises in you and you can feel the dread and the stress starting. A couple of minutes later, the woman next to you wakes and within a couple of minutes, the argument starts and then it’s on…
Or, you have been working quite happily in your office feeling pretty good with the day’s efforts and you hear the garage door go up. You glance at the clock and it’s 7.30. Within minutes of walking in the house, the arguments start and continue on until two or three in the morning…
Or, as you stand in the room with the door firmly locked, she stands outside the door screaming all sorts of insults, goading you to respond to attacks on your masculinity, your parenting abilities, your abilities as a partner, for hours on end…
Have you had any of this?
Can you relate to any of the scenarios?
It’s amazing how many men (and a lot of women) have had this very relationship. It is, unfortunately, all too common.
Yes, I myself had all of that and more and at the time, I felt I was married to the angriest, most bitter woman on the planet. Of course, it didn’t help that I kept putting fuel on the fire and contributing to keeping it going, as I reacted to every attack. I stayed in that relationship for eleven years and it was bad from day one and just got worse and worse. At the time, I thought I must have rocks in my head for putting up with this.
When I eventually realized that it wasn’t ever going to change, I decided to leave and it was only a small relief from the situation as I still had to go through the divorce process. She was still angry and bitter but now with an edge as she had being vengeful to add to the collection.
It was only a while later, that I was doing some work around an incident with my ex-wife that I had an amazing breakthrough. I had a lot of anger and resentment regarding it and I didn’t want to carry it any more. I was doing this work and I had not only a revelation regarding my relationship with my ex-wife but also a revelation about all of our relationships. This one revelation has changed how I not only think, but also how I react and interact with my current partner and how I coach my clients.
You see, when we get to an age where we desire a relationship, there are things that are within us, that for various reasons we have tried to disown, repress, or ignore. This leads to all sorts of problems later on and especially in our relationships. This is of course compounded by the confusion we have regarding our emotions.
The challenge we have is that boys are taught not to show vulnerability, fear, sadness, grief and the like because it’s not manly. Young girls are taught not to show anger, rage, frustration and the like because it’s not lady-like. This is where the problems start because, rather than use these wonderful emotions, (Yes, anger is wonderful), we are taught to suppress them rather than be taught a cleaner method of their use, and understanding the real reason we have these emotions and what they can reveal about our life.
Ultimately, we all want to grow and become better versions of ourselves and have relationships that are better. It is through understanding how our emotions give us an opportunity to do this and also understanding why we need all of our emotions that we can become ‘whole’ once more.
The thing that I realised that time doing that work with my friend, is that for all the years of that relationship, my ex-wife was presenting me with an opportunity wrapped in the cloak of anger, bitterness, jealousy, frustration and resentment. When I was finally able to, allowed myself to, and accepted that opportunity to learn about myself and also relationships, she became the best thing to ever happen to me. You see, her gift that she presented to me, again and again and again over the years, opened up parts of myself I didn’t know I needed to look at. This has enabled me to not only have a relationship that has ‘clean’ anger but conflict is resolved without yelling and screaming but exploring our emotions, how we really feel, that gift that the conflict has presented to us, and how we can better deal with it next time. Most of these interactions take only a few minutes. This is, of course a major improvement on the hours of unresolved conflict that I used to have. I certainly know which I prefer.
In fact, every person who has pissed us off, frustrated us, annoyed us, or we’ve just wanted to belt, was actually presenting us with an opportunity to become a better person, human, partner, parent, than we were. The annoying thing is that if we won’t, can’t or choose not to accept the gift that we are presented with, our unconscious self, will create the same situation but worse, because it wants us to get the lesson from the gift. This is where we end up in a spiral of situations that get worse and worse before they get better. You don’t have to hit rock bottom before you start moving upwards.
If you find yourself saying “What?” to what I have just explained, that’s fine, because it took me a long while to “get this” as well. If you think about your life or even easier looked at that life of someone you know, and you see them doing the same behaviours, habits, relationships, friendships, interactions again and again, that is what I am talking about. It is the seemingly never-ending cycle that traps a lot of people that I am referring to.
The situation or interaction gives us an opportunity to explore using our emotions, our inner being and our inner feelings so that we can receive the gift that has been presented to us, so we can become that better partner, parent, friend, human, whatever it is our unconscious is wanting us to become. The major bonus is that you not only welcome conflict, because it now makes sense, you almost look forward to it, because you know it means an opportunity to not only learn about yourself but become a better version of yourself. The part that is most exciting is that there is very little stress, no name calling, no aggravation, no raised voices, just purposeful movement through some different processes to reach a desired result where both parties are happy with the result. That is something we could all do with having, every day.
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