Today I’m continuing to unpack more in our series about the wounds of our pasts by sharing another one of my triggers, as well as how that impacts and often serves to trigger my husband in a certain way.
I’m sharing this because …
I think that’s because our spouses (and children) are our most important relationships other than God, so it makes sense that we would experience each other more powerfully and painfully than any other type of relationship.
When I was young, it seemed to me that my (now deceased) mother allowed her anger at my (now deceased) father to grow into bitterness, because my father often avoided dealing with the issues she would bring to him. However, I saw this as my father resisting arguing, out of a commitment to avoid saying and doing things they might regret.
Usually there was a low-level of tension that they muddled through most days, but every now and then, my mother would lose her temper in a very volatile way. The last straw would be broken and she would lash out primarily at my father, but the rest of us often got caught in the crossfire as well.
That created a tremendous fear in me of conflict—especially when anger erupts unexpectedly.
Guess what type of man I married?
Yep! A man with a tendency toward a hot-temper! (By the way, he’s given me permission to share about his tendencies and triggers too! Yay, Gary!)
So on occasion, when his temper gets the best of him, I feel triggered. It’s easy for me to assume the blame or feel extreme shame, even when his anger is not about me.
My default response in our very messy marriage years was to withdraw emotionally from Gary like my father did with my mom. However, over the years and at Gary’s urging, I’ve learned to remain engaged. Though, at first, as we worked through this balancing of conflict, my “engagement” often caused more problems than good … if you know what I mean! 😉
The fact is, whenever I withdraw, that triggers Gary’s sense of abandonment.
His adopted/step-father (the primary father who raised him) was rather emotionally detached. Going further back to his biological father, his parents divorced when he was a toddler, so there was another opportunity for him to feel abandoned on some level.
Gary’s default response in our very messy marriage years was to pursue me more with even greater anger (which is really his fear in disguise)—further spinning us out of control! In other words …
I’ll be sharing a tool next week that Gary and I now use to pray and process through these triggers. Using this tool has helped to lessen the frequency of our wounds getting triggered and has brought healing to our hearts and marriage with Christ’s help. Yay, God!
But for now, consider taking one small step in this journey with us …
If you and your spouse are more passive in sharing your feelings, this may take you longer to identify—so pay close attention to your negative self-talk. If you both share openly and without filters, you probably will have plenty of “insights” to glean in this project!
You’re probably also a lot like us in that your triggers trigger your spouse’s triggers. Say that three times fast! 😉
On the bright side, this can reveal an abundance of understanding about the reasons you and your spouse do that “toxic tango”—giving you “new, healthier steps” that lead to the foot of the cross.
Care to share with us a trigger that you have with your spouse?
What do you think is the feeling behind that trigger—shame, a sense of abandonment, fear of losing control, etc.?
Joining with my friends at Giving Up on Perfect, Wifey Wednesday, A Little R & R Wednesdays, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, DanceWithJesusFriday and Wholehearted Wednesday.
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