After being married for over 30 years, what seems apparent to me is that it’s not so much what we can see about what is going on between us but what we cannot.
My wife asks me to do something and I snap at her. Why? I try to tell her something that is important to me and she gets defensive. Why? It turns out to be things that we carry with us, experiences that we may not even remember that are being stimulated in the process of trying to communicate with each other.
So, it’s not what we see about each other it’s really about what we are blind to and what comes up automatically from our emotional recall center. Where is this place? What does it do with old experiences and why do they never seem to go away? The answers are complicated, but we do know that pain gets put into our reservoir way deep in our unconscious. It is clearly not something our brain wants to deal with.
Yesterday my mother was over celebrating my birthday with my brother and his wife. I have been sick recently and mentioned how tired I tended to get. My mother being the sweet woman she is said that I should go lay down. I responded that I really felt fine now and that it wouldn’t be long and I would have time to myself. She continued to ask me several more times to go rest until I finally I lost my patience. Suddenly it all came flooding back to me. This is what she did when I was a kid and it drove me up the wall. Now, when my wife does it, I have a similar response that I usually just contain. But, it made my response clear to me.
So, what are we to do with these experiences and where do they fit into our emotional life with our mate? Well, here comes the tricky part. It means that we cannot know except we are making our mate frustrated or left thinking we are nuts. This means that we must do something different. We need to listen to our partner, take our cues from them as to what is going on with us. Because we can’t see we need to use their eyes to make things clear. This means we need to trust them. If we don’t then we know what we have to work on first. Then we can proceed to understand their responses as a good way to see ourselves.