October 3, 2012

Are You Recreating Your Childhood with Your Partner?

The Soul Reporter on Growing Up Your Love.

The other day, my husband informed me via text he was going to do something he knew I might not approve of. Him sharing this with me is a new behavior. In the past, I found out these things by accident or because I was snooping around.

I told him how I felt about what he was going to do. I threw in the kids: “Do you think it is a good choice considering we have children?”

Turns out, I had no influence. He was still going to do what he wants to do, and I fell into a funk and sent him this text:

Me:  I may not want to go to dinner tonight.

Husband: Why?

Me: I feel let down by us again.

Husband: I know you’re disappointed. I love you for that.

Great. He loves me. But, I didn’t know how to take this. Did he mean he gets a thrill off my disappointment? Is not my disappointment a wager to persuade him toward better choices?

And so I asked: Why would you contribute to my disappointment and love this?

Husband: I love it because its how I feel about you always wanting the best from me, even wanting more from me than I want for myself.

This, I realize, is my purest part and also the part that causes the most dysfunction in our relationship.

I do want what’s best for him. I want this for everyone. But, I don’t sleep with everyone so it can make my want for him sort of tricky. It’s also tricky because I realized quite a while ago I was recreating my childhood within my marriage.

Little Nikki coped by controlling her mother’s drinking. She thought if she could do this then she would be safe. Then, adult Nikki found relationships, which presented her with some of the same opportunities, which further encouraged controlling behaviors. If hubby is stable, then Nikki is safe.

For 13 years of marriage, I’ve been making this pattern conscious, and therefore making my way toward a healthier balance of sincerely wanting what is best for him and not cramming my thoughts about what that is, down his throat.

I think I found that balance after this last exchange. Would you like to know what I did after he did the behavior I didn’t want him to do?


I didn’t ask about his choice or how it went. I didn’t lecture, condemn or reiterate what I had already said. In fact, once that initial funk passed, I didn’t even feel mad or sad about it. And, I don’t even feel weird about this new behavior. Instead it feels right, and sort of, well, grown up.

Could it be little Nikki is healing….?

I don’t need my husband or even my mother to do the right thing to make me feel safe. I can only say how I feel, and then let it go. By letting go, a space has opened where I see new behaviors that feel healthy, and grown up. Which for me, this time, was to not say anything—to just leave it alone.

When we can see our relationships as containers for self-exploration and expansion, we have a wider perspective, which means we have an opportunity to move beyond our childhood and other past pains.

We do this by paying attention to our behaviors and patterns within our relationship. We will know when we are in a dysfunctional pattern when we feel stuck or are reactive to what our partner is doing. Chances are there is a connection to the past trapped within this behavior. It is what makes us act childish. But, we can begin to grow up by bringing our awareness deeper within.

Ask questions. Be curious. Wonder why you feel the way you feel and are reacting the way you are.

With our interest and commitment alone, we will be guided to an insight, which will help us be more conscious within our relationship. This consciousness in time, if we continue to commit to our growth, will expand and we will begin to heal, as will our relationship.

The fact my husband took a risk and shared his behavior with me, and I moved through my pain to arrive in a place where I did not react shows me our dysfunctional patterns are transforming in the light of our commitment, awareness and also compassion for each other.

These are the ingredients of a grown up love.


~ Editor: Lori Lothian

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