The Secure Connector: #19 in a series.
Trait: I don’t hold on to resentments and am able to forgive my spouse.
When Shirley came into my office with her husband, I asked her what was bothering her the most about their marriage. “He’s hurt me so many times… over and over.” “By now if he really loved me, he would just know what I need and how to love me.” When I asked her if she could ever forgive her husband and start over, she said “there is too much water under the bridge, I resent him so much, and I could never forget the hurt he has done to me.” With further inquiry about the hurts, Shirley was able to begin with an incident on her honeymoon and had I not stopped her after six or so stories, I think she could have gone on for hours.
Although she didn’t realize it, I began to surmise that the biggest problem in the marriage was Shirley’s definition of “hurt” and her inadequate self-awareness about her expectations of love. Along with that, came an inability to forgive her husband.
Over the many months to follow, Shirley slowly came to realize that she had a resistant attachment wound from early childhood, what we call The Vacillator in our book How We Love. At the simplest level, her exceedingly high and perfectionistic views of love left her husband chronically frustrated, and he would tell me every week, “nothing I do is good enough, fast enough, pure enough or thorough enough.” With Shirley’s insight and self-reflective skill almost absent, she didn’t realize that her idealistic views of love and life were sabotaging the very love she wanted. Because he failed so many times to measure up, she was resistant to attach to him and kept him hanging and dancing like a puppet at the hands of a scornful marionette.
Over time, as Shirley gradually moved toward becoming a secure connector, here were some of the things she began to mindfully incorporate into her life.
1. The world and all that is in it, is broken… including love and relationships.
2. Transitioning from unstated expectations to negotiated requests and accepting limited outcomes was to live a life based upon reality and not fantasy.
3. Accepting that she and her husband fell short every day with good and bad existing in each of them, she was better able to accept weakness and failure in her husband, children and ultimately… herself.
4. Asking for what she desired from her husband and then assessing compliance levels, allowed for realistic judgments about successes and failures.
5. Accepting criticism and differences of opinion without becoming offended and learning to bend to the will of others.
How about you? Have you held on to resentment and struggle to forgive your spouse? Take a few lessons from Shirley and begin studying the Vacillator section in the workbook (included at the end of How We Love) and ask God to give you a new perspective. Your unhappiness may be self-imposed and God has something much better in store for you in the future.
Thanks for Listening,
Milan & Kay