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There are parts of my wife that have been mishandled by every previous man, starting with her father.

February 28, 2024


I don’t take blame for what they did, but I have decided to take responsibility.

I am responsible for our relationship thriving, blossoming and rising above old stories of hurt, closure and betrayal.

These stories (which we all carry) show up in our reactivity to each other…

Unable to sit with our pain we often see no way out but to push back and -when all else fails- inflict pain on our partner so they may know how we’re feeling..

“If they don’t get how I’m hurting..

Then they get to hurt too..”

In a recent thread, a woman asked:

“In what moments may a Man need to protect the relationship from his woman?”

I can only speak from experience.

There are times when my wife forgets she is safe with me.

Times when her walls come up.

When a wound is poked in the most fragile of places..

Times when her emotions are too stuck in old patterns (of fear, anger, violence, shame and absence.)

There are days when she is more tender and -for whatever reason- she’s fallen asleep at the wheel. (unconscious, bitter, resentful, nagging, entitled, aggressive, passive-aggressive, sarcastic, etc.)

These days, it is my job to protect the relationship, her and myself, from these old ghosts.

In very practical terms it looks like having solid standards and structures of communicating our pain and honouring them as sacred. (I will not let a single word slide, outside of what we’ve agreed together. No matter what.)

I’ll remind her:

“Love, I see you are frustrated and it makes sense..

There’s so many emotions present and this is confusing..

I also want to remind you about our commitment not to (interrupt/attack/blame/ignore) each other during these difficult conversations..

Has the agreement changed for you?”

That’s often all that’s ever needed for us to re-member and come back to being centred and vulnerable, instead of reactive.

However, there are times when whatever is present is just too intense and she’ll plow through my invitations towards accountability.

In those moments I don’t let it slide either.

I say something like:

“I can see you are in a place where it must feel hard to honour the agreements we have set. This makes it very difficult for me to hear you and try to understand you.

I am starting to feel angry and frustrated..

It feels like scary territory and I don’t know what to do.

I feel like pushing back or punishing you, and if this continues the way it’s going I do not trust myself to not go there.

so I will step away from this conversation..

I want you to know that I am not leaving you.

I’m very interested in us repairing and finding a solution to this situation, so come to me once you feel ready to have a proper conversation where we can respect what we both committed to..”

This is what protecting the relationship from her looks like (in my marriage).

And of course, not every conversation is a sterile, surgical-like space of ” being proper “, sometimes we play with the fires of our emotions and unfiltered expression – but that requires a different kind of container and an agreement going into it.

That is more akin to playing with fire,

What I share here is how we put down the fires.

She does the same with me too.

She calls me out and doesn’t let it slide..

And I both hate and love it..

because NOTHING sucks more than being held accountable to high standards of relating when the wounded child within you would rather scream, kick and throw a violent tantrum…

Yet there’s no greater trust than to know that you’ve created structures robust enough to withstand any storm.

Structures that create space for all emotions to move through us,

while keeping our partners safe from potential explosions..

These structures are there to protect us from the uglier sides of ourselves.. (and our partner)

They prevent unnecessary damage, further rupture and saying / doing things that once sober (out of the emotional drunken haze) we would regret.

They prevent damage and often, invite us back into our vows and desire to work as a team in finding a solution to the problem at hand together..

Or at least, being anchored in enough love and connection that we are willing to hold hands while we both go through our own old stories, hurt and grief.

Your partner’s trauma and history is not yours to carry…

But you are responsible for ensuring you have the difficult conversations, agreements and practices that allow for this trauma to dissolve into compassion, love and understanding.

They did not hire you as their healer or coach, so they don’t need you to fix them..

They don’t need your clever ideas or the latest advice you heard on a podcast or read online..

They are your lover..

Love is what they want from you..

With you.