PUT THE LOVE BACK IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Bruce I. Doyle, III, Ph.D.
When Sidney and Jane fell in love they were so close that it would have been almost impossible to slide a piece of greased wax paper between them. They were inseparable. The love they felt overrode anything that could possibly occur to disrupt their constant state of bliss.
It wasn't long before Sidney did something that Jane didn't like. She let him know, in no uncertain terms, that he was to never do it again. Sidney grudgingly complied - he would never do it again. But, what he did was create a "withhold" for himself. In the future, Sidney would withhold his action, not because he wanted to, but because he was accommodating Jane. Sidney's creation of a "withhold" put a portion of their relationship off-limits. By creating the "withhold", a landmine, so to speak, was placed in the space between them. "Don't step there - you'll create an explosion." In addition, he was suppressing his self-expression - he was denying himself. Self-denial creates resentment. We call it "collecting stamps".
Within days, Jane said something that Sidney didn't like and he unloaded on her. "Whoops, better not bring that subject up again," Jane decided. Another "withhold". Another landmine placed in the space between them. Gradually, more and more of their relationship was classified off-limits - ready to explode at any second.
It didn't take long, with this game of "withhold" ping pong, before the space between Sidney and Jane was nearly filled to capacity with landmines set to explode with the slightest mis-step. The tension and resentment between them escalated with each new mine.
A few years later, Sidney and Jane sat across from each other at the dinner table and there was nothing safe to talk about. Almost everything in their relationship was off-limits. Sound familiar? What happened?
First of all, when someone in relationship is upset, their upset is never about what is occurring at the moment. It's about something that occurred in the past that is being triggered by the other person’s actions or words. So, if Sidney's action triggered Jane's anger, her upset isn't his responsibility. The person with the emotion is responsible for the emotion. Therefore, there is no need for Sidney to consider defending himself. And, it's not to Jane's benefit for him to withhold his action in the future. By withholding, he is taking away the trigger that Jane needs to help her resolve the issue. She needs to resolve what's underneath her anger so her upset won't happen again. If Jane was emotionally free, Sidney could do what he did and Jane might notice it and comment on it but have no emotional reaction. It’s the emotional reaction that let's you know that there is a healing opportunity at hand.
I'm not suggesting that you deliberately go around "pushing your partner’s buttons". What I am suggesting, is that you be yourself. If your action accidentally triggers your partner, remember - it's not your responsibility. Your partners emotions are generated by his/her thoughts and his/her thoughts develop from his/her belief system. The source of the emotion is the person with the emotion. (If this idea was understood by more of us their would be a lot less conflict).
During an upset, your partner’s emotions are most likely the result of an unconscious belief being activated by the incident. A limiting belief that your partner isn't aware of. You can help them bring the limiting belief into conscious awareness for release with the following simple routine.
When your partner gets upset, stay energetically connected (don't withdraw) refrain from "getting hooked" yourself and provide a loving space for them to explore what they believe is happening. You might gently say, "What do you believe just happened?" When you get an answer, no matter how illogical it is, gently ask, "When was the last time you felt this way?" Take that answer and keep repeating the question, "And, before that?" after each answer, until your partner uncovers the original incident that resembles what just occurred. They will have a sudden "aha" realization and receive insight about the limiting belief that created the upset. This realization will usually release the belief along with the emotional energy it generated. You might need to provide a box of tissues and a few hugs. The original incident was most likely painful.
Each time you and your partner handle one of these situations, you explode the associated landmine and the healing that takes place fills the hole with love. So, if you want to put the love back in your relationship, you must both agree to always be yourself. And, if a landmine does go off, you will support each other in the healing process - no more "withholds". Blow the mines and fill the holes with love. It takes diligence ? but it will put the love back guaranteed.