A recent widely posted article on Facebook tells the story of a hospice nurse who identified the top 5 regrets that people have on their death beds. The results are not surprising…things like “I wish I would have stayed in touch with my friends” and “I wish I would have let myself be happier”.
All five regrets have one thing in common…living a life where authentic relationships with oneself and others is primary.
Sometimes when I am in session with a couple and they are fire-red mad, hackles up, seething with resentment and anger, I ask them, “What’s the point? What’s the point of you being married? Why are you spending 90 minutes with me every Thursday evening?” And I push them to get really really honest with themselves.
Shockingly, what we sometimes discover is that in that moment the point is:
- To prove their partner wrong.
- To default back into the comfortable victim story.
- To struggle.
- To protect themselves from being vulnerable.
- To prevent themselves from experience real intimacy.
Sometimes, what we discover is that they would rather be married to their anger than to their partner. Ouch.
Definitions of “Married”
- intimately joined
- to combine suitably or agreeably
- to fit together or align two things
Ask yourself these three questions to see what you are married to:
- Do you get secret pleasure our of making my partner wrong and pointing out when she/he has screwed up?
- Do you keep a mental tally of all of the times and ways that my partner has wronged me, not kept her/his word, or failed? Do you then pull that scoreboard out in moments of frustration to flagellate her/him with it?
- Do you frequently talk with friends or family about how upset I am at my partner? Do you share the same kind of story about how your partner has failed you over and over and over again?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you might be courting your relationship with anger more than your relationship with your spouse.
To some, this may sound crazy. I’ve had clients ask, “But Jenny, I don’t want to be married to me anger!”
This is where it is valuable to get really straight with yourself. If you don’t want to be angry, what do you want to be? Forgiving? Compassionate? Loving? Kind?
Usually, the straight answer is this: I don’t want to be angry…I want my partner to change so that I don’t have to feel angry.
And that, is not fair. It is not your partner’s job to change so that your anger goes away. It is your job to identify how you want to be in your relationship and start doing that. And, when it is tough and you hit a road block, find help, support, and guidance to get through it so that both of you can grow.
If you find yourself married to your anger and you’d rather be married to your spouse, call me. I can help.