My ex-husband and I rarely fought during our marriage. We fought while we were dating and it was excruciating for me. I hated when I hurt him. I hated admitting when he hurt me. I hated being wrong. I hated making mistakes. He spoke up about past hurt feelings when we were fighting.
Hated fighting. Hated it. Hated it.
So, because neither of us liked confrontation, he let me have my way and we rarely fought. Then I resented him for letting me have my way.
We were both so relationship-immature.
My parents fought a lot when I was a kid. I hated that too. I would hide in my room or, when I could drive, leave the house. Fighting, to me, was a bad sign. I don't like the negative energy and loud voice and harsh words. It just feels... ick!
Then Gentleman Jack taught me that perfect isn't all that it's cracked up to be and the truth really shows itself in those imperfect moments.
Early in our relationship, GJ admitted to me that he hates confrontation and fighting.
Well, amen to that brutha! Me too!
That statement is funny to me now because he is the FIRST one to tell me or anyone exactly how he feels or when he feels like something isn't right. He sort of knocks my socks off when he does it because I was *so* used to my ex who kept all of that to himself. My Gentleman doesn't let it slide. He nips it in the bud immediately.
To quote him:
"You can push the wound down deep and let it fester. Or you can clean out the wound, though it will hurt like hell, but at least it will heal faster."
Sometimes, I don't want to discuss what's bothering me or why I'm sad or what I meant... I don't want to upset him or hurt his feelings. I try and try to admit to my pain or disappointment without blaming and when he reacts to me anyway... UGH! That's when I want to say, "SEE?" and hang up the phone!
I promised him I would never do that though.
So our fights look like this:
I struggle through my disappointment and his pain (or vice versa). We both react defensively. There's frustration and anger on both sides. We're both exasperated. I'm crying. He's quiet.
Somewhere in there, one of us gains perspective, realizes that there is no intent to hurt and decides not to take things personally. Next our sentences begin with, "I felt like this is what you said..." and "I perceived that you did this..." and "I didn't mean to imply that... " and "I realize that I'm reacting to a past pain..." and suddenly the heaviness begins to lighten.
The next thing I know, we have a whole new understanding of the other person. It's like a new version of the partner just showed up. Then we're both communicating with loving words of gratitude for the understanding and patience and continued love.
It's pretty freakin' amazing. I had no idea you could put it out there, deal with it, and be over it.
What a concept.
Isn't it amazing that what you learn in your early relationships seems like *normal*? Then you find in subsequent relationships that it was actually, in fact, a dysfunction?
I'm still trying to break those past patterns and clean out the wounds. He's right though. Cleaning those wounds does hurt like hell. We will inevitably but unintentionally hurt the ones we love. That's part of a relationship. I'm happy to be with someone who allows me to make mistakes and learn from them.
If only I could be that gentle on myself...