It takes two to create a relationship, yet we don’t really learn that until we’ve fallen out of like with each other. Until we hit reality and find ourselves in the beginning stages of differentiation. When we are seeing the down side of our mate not just the up side. When we are sometimes disappointed by their choices. When it is extremely obvious that we are more different than we first imagined. When false advertising is often in our consciousness.
At that intersection on the marriage journey we are faced with an option. We can just swallow our truth so that the river runs smoothly in our relationship. From the outside looking in, it appears that we, as a couple, are in complete agreement. There is one huge problem with that stance. One of us will soon be miserable.
When we swallow our truth we betray ourselves!
At the same time we create a pseudo marriage where only one partner’s perspective is shared. Over time the accommodating partner begins to feel increasingly unimportant. The seeds of resentment are planted in the soil of dishonesty, of swallowing our truth.
As a Marriage and Family therapist I want to be fair to the partner who seem always to get his/her way. Sometimes they are absolutely unaware of their mate’s deep discouragement and dissatisfaction. From their perspective their mate agrees with them. Often they are extremely grateful that they have found someone so easy to live with. They are just two peas in the same pod. They are so similar.
Other partners have felt the seeming abandonment when a mate doesn’t see eye to eye with them. They just don’t care. They want their way and they will do anything to get it. They will go underground and appear to agree while they do exactly what they want without their mate’s knowledge.
Or they will attack and intimidate with demeaning and cruel words. It is not unusual to hear a husband in the counseling office say this to his wife, “Shut the f… up” before he storms out of the office. Do not for a second believe that only the male population is guilty of such unloving words. I have heard wives say equally shaming things far too many times.
The truth is it is anxiety producing when we realize that our partner just might not see things as we do.
Whether the mate is innocent and just assumes agreement or whether the mate is entitled and arrogant, the results are the same. The partner on the receiving end feels invisible, unimportant, disrespected, and demoralized.
What must be faced is that prior to being underappreciated by their spouse, the partner, who consistently swallows their truth, has devalued him/herself.
Where did he/she learn not to ask for what they need?
When did he/she decide that their perspective is less important than another persons?
What makes differences so terrifying?
How did she adopt the goal of just pleasing others?
Why does he make himself so small?
There is an enormous difference between non-productive fighting and taking a firm position on our own behalf. When we fail to speak our truth, we assume a “de-selfed” position in our important relationships.
We choose relationship at the expense of having a self.
Often at that point we act out our frustration rather than speaking it. When we quiet our voice and bury our perspective, we make ourselves vulnerable to depression, anxiety, headaches, chronic anger and bitterness.
Sometimes we settle, give in and give up, fall silent and lose our awareness. Our wants, beliefs, priorities, and values become negotiable under relationship pressure.
We create a pseudo-self.
We become an impersonator, zapped of energy, miserable in our spirit, disconnected from ourselves and distant with others.
“Our conversations invent us. Through our speech and our silence, we become smaller or larger selves. Through our speech and silence, we diminish or enhance the other person, and we narrow or expand the possibilities between us. How we use our voice determines the quality of our relationships, who we are in the world, and what the world can or might become.” Harriet Lerner Ph.D
Intimacy is only a fantasy if one or both people in the marriage are unable to speak their truth. Intimacy suffers in the face of silence and pretending. We can’t be more honest with another person than we are with ourselves. It is not wasted time to get acquainted with yourself and your truth.
Until our next Conscious Lover’s Blog…