TIT FOR TAT IN MARRIAGE. WHAT'S IT REALLY ABOUT?

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If you've been reading my output, chances are you've got a pretty clear idea about the name of my game: recognizing ineffective methods of operating in your relationships.

Most of us are living on the surface of our lives. This isn't intended to act as an insult. I'm not insinuating that we’re shallow. My observation is that we live busy, over stimulating lives. Our plates are overflowing, and there simply isn't the energy or the excess time to be introspective at the level required to actually understand the motivations behind our ineffective tendencies.

Humility is en vogue right now. Self deprecating humor is everywhere. Unlike our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, admitting our flaws isn't considered a weakness. Acknowledging the problem is the first step, but most of us fail to go beyond that.

We out ourselves and consider the job done. We’re more open about our inadequacies than ever, but identifying your triggers and the origins thereof is a lot to ask when your head is already spinning because you have little people to take care of and a husband to stay connected with, amidst all of life’s other chaos.

Unfortunately, you can expect more of the status quo in your relationships as long as you continue to stop short in your introspection. That fight that you have over and over and over again with your husband, never gonna end.

My real life example: When my husband wants to go do something on his own or with his friends, I have difficulty feeling supportive or glad for his much needed respite from dad and husband life. I've had this issue in previous relationships, when my trust had been betrayed, my bond was shaky, and faith in my partner just didn't exist, which is common for many, thus my bringing it up, but that's not the case with my husband.  

Our scenario has to do with me associating him taking care of his needs with a lack of concern about my own. He knows how worn down I am, how much I do for the kids, how neglected I am, how can he even feel decent about leaving me here to go it alone?

Most of us don't make it past that initial line of thought. We impulsively give him the cold shoulder and maybe have a confrontation about some other thing later on, because we’ve held our feelings in for too long. Or, we have a blow up right then and there about him leaving, and he begrudgingly stays in. You then sit on opposite ends of the couch ignoring each other until you forget what you were pissed off about to begin with, usually the next morning. A good night’s sleep seems to offer temporary amnesia. And your husband, well he doesn't know what the hell even hit him. Men are pretty good at circumnavigating futile emotions, like guilt. Women, well, we like to wear that one like a crown, dangling it for all to see when it suits us.

If I let those feelings sit and don't dig any deeper, which I sometimes do, because I'm tired, and I don't want to think anymore, then I would never realize that the underlying emotion for me is a fear of rejection. If my husband is taking care of his needs and not acknowledging mine, (not exactly accurate, but the mind and heart are often irrational) then he must not appreciate me. If he doesn't appreciate me, does he notice me? Does he love me as much as I love him? Am I worthy of his love, of anyone's love? Oh God, I'm going to be alone… You can go further with this, exploring why those sensations exist. Who did you need to be to feel loved growing up? How did your parents interact? How do you feel about you lately?

The point of this exploration is to own your side of the interaction, instead of thrusting all of the responsibility for your feelings into your partner’s lap. Chances are that there's more to it than meets the eye. If there is a repeated sore spot in your relations with significant people in your life, then there is a deeper underlying issue that’s going to require some psychological excavating.

Start by addressing your basic feelings. Think about the recurring friction. Really try to identify if there is an insecurity for you surrounding this topic. If you're going deep enough, you should notice some discomfort and even embarrassment. Admitting flaws doesn't feel nice. On some level, if you linger in it, you should be able to recognize a fear in there. This is going to vary, based upon the situation at hand, but it generally comes down to a fear of not being worthy of love or a fear of not feeling connected. Fear and Love are the two most basic emotions, they're the foundation for everything else. So, if you're pissed off, there's some fear hiding in there.

Determining your raw sentiments isn't a cure all. You then have to remind yourself of them the next time you feel the desire to do battle. The goal is to be able to talk yourself down from that ledge, because you know how irrational the interaction is. It helps me to also remember that my husband is fighting his own inner demons, and we’re both just trying to protect our hearts from pain and loss; noble causes, indeed.

None of it’s going to come easy. It's all work, but so is the drudgery of endless bickering turned silent treatment, on repeat. You can move beyond that one argument and maybe tear the band aid off another festering wound that needs mending, slowly working through heartaches and fears of years’ past, becoming a fierce team united and persevering in love, a true force to be reckoned with.

-Angi

ANGI

I was an oddity in high school, obsessed with the CIA, the supernatural, aliens, basically all things mysterious. As an adult, I've moved on to being captivated by human nature, my own and everyone elses. Exploring the whys and hows of my own psyche and trying to create connections that have depth and meaning brings significance to my experience in this school we call Life. I've gone from being a full time working mom, to a part time working mom, to a stay at home mom and the breadth of that experience has shown me the value in all of those roles. I am riveted by the complicated genius that is the female intellect and sharing insights with other engaging women has become, for me, an essential symbiosis.