(and why it's so important for your children that you do it)
Her eyes gazed downward, and her face held the look of sadness.
This one moment of conflict created a fork in the road that would determine how the rest of the weekend was going to go for us.
“Tell me what you’re feeling,” I asked.
“I’m not surprised,” she said.
“No babe, that’s a judgment. Tell me how you’re feeling instead.” I said.
“I’m feeling frustration. I really wanted to spend that time with you.”
It was a Saturday morning, and I had agreed to go to Dominic’s music class,
a weekly class that he goes to in order to develop his relationship to music.
A small group of moms and dads show up on a weekday with their 3 - 4 year olds and they sing songs, dance, and play instruments together.
Not my cup of tea as I have a pretty high value on my work, so I enjoy getting to hear them come home and tell me about what a fun time they had.
This time the class was held on a Saturday, and the night before-- my wife shared her desire to have me join in.
We had out of town guests that were arriving right afterwards, and I had errands to run beforehand, and as usual --I was late.
In order to properly prepare for our guests-- I had to graciously bow out of going to Dominic’s music class.
I walked into the bathroom as she was getting Dominic ready to let her know I wouldn’t be joining them as I was behind schedule.
That’s when I could feel her energy shift from excitement to sadness.
A previous version of me would have reacted to her upset.
Unconsciously at the effect of my guilty parts, I would have taken my wife’s judgments as an attack on my character,
making everything she was feeling mean that I was not “doing enough.”
My mind would have turned to all I did for her and the family,
all the times I DID show up for them, and how ungrateful she was being.
That would have been my wounding talking.
Defensiveness. Justification. Invalidation.
The greatest threat to secure love- is the ego that masks our shadows.
And chances are you’ve been there before.
But there’s something magical about doing the work to heal from a Trauma Bond in my previous relationship.
You learn a thing or two when you’re committed to breaking the cycle.
After taking the pause when I felt her sadness, Instead of reacting to her judgment—I lovingly REDIRECTED her judgment into her feelings to avoid the battle cry of every single trauma bonded relationship I was in previously:
“You ALWAYS put me last!”
“You NEVER make time for me!”
The only way I could do that was to take that split second to integrate my shadows before communicating with her and helping her through her judgements.
I discovered that there's an entire encyclopedia of activity that happens in that split second-- and learning what to do in that time can make or break not your relationship-- but your entire life.
So many relationships are on the verge of breaking apart not due to a lack of love—but due to a lack of skill in mastering the conflict/repair cycle.
And that’s not anyone’s fault.
It just happens to be a cycle that’s repeated from the codependency we observe in our family of origin.
We learn and repeat what’s familiar.
And what's familiar is to abandon ourselves the second we feel our partners getting triggered by us.
We don’t take the time to learn the ONE SKILL that safeguards our relationships and allows for our children to grow up in environments where the home is a sanctuary instead of a battlefield because we get so defensive towards each other’s emotions.
Women don’t learn the skill of getting out of judgments and sharing their feelings.
Men don’t learn the skill of leading their women out of their judgements with devotion.
Most don’t learn the skill of self regulation to expand that space between stimulus and response.
Then an entire weekend can collapse.
And the children end up suffering.
It's no secret that families are in trouble.
That's why I love speaking to those who are ready to go beyond traditional therapy and learn how to respond instead of react.
After all-- we learn from what we experience growing up.
Remember what it was like growing up for you?
How was conflict modeled to you?
Or was conflict kept hidden behind closed doors so you never learned how to relate to it in a healthy way?
The good news is that if we’re willing to become Trigger-Proof, we can break the cycle.
The second I could get beyond my wife's judgements-- and get her to access the sadness underneath, I was inspired to take action to take care of her-- without her having to manipulate or control me into doing it the way I was used to in previous relationships.
I called my friends and told them we’re going to be behind, and I decided to show up to the music class.
Which turned out to be a blessing because I got to see Dominic in all his self-expressed glory, and I actually had a great time.
One split second of a moment. Every trigger creates a fork in the road—where we get to choose not only how we will spend a weekend-- but how we will choose what kind of a life we are going to create.
Secure relationships aren’t born out of grandiose gestures and love-bombing displays.
They’re formed in these moment-to-moment choices of who we are deciding to become.
Your wingman on the adventure,