One of the hardest parts about marriage is that needs and feelings get repressed and obscured, and then the love seems to fade. When we hold onto anger and frustration, those experiences predominate our minds and hearts, and we lose the tenderness and the openness that we need to breathe life into the relationship or marriage.
Through our defensiveness, we protect our egos as to not expose them to the “relationship elements” of criticism, negativity, harsh words and perceived aggression. It’s hard, especially for men, to know how to function with their wives and girlfriends when they’re not playing those (unconscious) interpersonal games. We spend so much time and energy upholding these fragile egos, that it’s so difficult to be in the present moment, where true change and growth can happen.
To be able to let those defenses down, communication can truly start to rev its engines. When we can stop and listen to our mate, really sit back and take in what they are saying to us, then we can start to open and accommodate their needs. We can temporarily push aside our own needs to the empathic fulfillment of the other, which is where true relationship lies. We “relate” instead of “defend,” which is ultimately not about exchange but about protection.
Becoming aware of the wounds we carry, which precede our current relationship, and learning how to understand how those wounds guide our current behavior is critical to our success as good relationship partners. Understanding that our partner, in many ways, is a mirror to us, someone who reflects the “unfinished business” that we are currently still struggling with. Translate: we still have work that we need to do, and if we can see our partner as the person closest to us that can reflect all that back to us, and we’re open to it, then we can change through our relationship. It’s conscious relationship building, which creates better and happier relationships.