Loving Intentions

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I’ve been angry at my wife for the past couple of weeks. I’ve just hid it from everyone very well.

I know…not the best way to be in a marriage. Angry for an extended period of time is not productive. I’m the kind of person, though, who is much more likely to hold my emotions in – especially my anger. I am very good at hiding it…at pretending that I’m ok, and making others believe I’m ok. It’s not so easy with Elsie. She knows me inside and out, scarily so. But I can hide from her too.

Yesterday, though, it came to the surface, and I couldn’t hide any longer. I knew that something needed to be done about it, and I needed to share why I was angry so we could come to a resolution. Otherwise, this was just going to continue on, we weren’t going to get anywhere, and I was going to stay angry.

For me, though, I don’t like to express my anger because I’m afraid it’s going to hurt someone, or I’m going to say something I don’t mean and would regret. So, I am very measured in how I express my anger, and very measured in the words I choose.

Sometimes this is a great quality to have, and sometimes it’s very damaging to a relationship, because my ability to measure myself and shut down can also mean I shut down the joy and love as well.

Still, if I want to make progress, yelling and blaming and name calling aren’t going to get me anywhere. If I want to come back to a place of loving and openness with my wife, then just venting my anger won’t work for me (or us). Our marriage isn’t served simply by me releasing anger.

What I did want was to express myself, to be heard and understood by her, and, as a result, find a place of resolution so we could come back to the loving between us, and feel more open by removing some of the blocks I had up. That was my intention.

In the past, I would just start talking and sharing my frustration and why I was angry. And Elsie just heard me blaming her for my upset.

This time, however, I asked if she wanted to talk about why I was upset, and she said “Well that depends. If you want to talk to me and just blame me for why you’re upset, I’m not interested. But if your intention is to talk so we can come into the loving and get back to a place where this feels good, then yes.”

Elsie knows what’s in my mind on a regular basis (it can be scary how attuned she is to me). I already had the feeling that maybe it would be helpful to start with some kind of intention. But I wasn’t sure how to formulate. And she did it for me. She’s amazing like that.

And so I did. I told her that “my intention with this conversation is to be heard, and to talk to you about why I’m upset so that we can come back to the loving and come closer. My intention is not to blame you, it’s just to share where I’m at so that we can move through it and become closer. That’s why I want to talk to you.”

This was such a helpful way to put this difficult conversation into a loving context, and I could see her open up and relax. She didn’t need to get her defenses up. She didn’t need to put her armor on. She didn’t need to prepare for battle, to defend against my blame, or anything like that. She knew that whatever I was about to say, I was doing it because I loved her and wanted to be able to love her more deeply and closely.

As a result, she could relax, and was much more open and receptive to the conversation.

That doesn’t mean it was easy. It was a difficult conversation, and we even had to slow down at times because it started to get heated. But we were both always able to recognize that we were doing this to come closer together, which made our willingness to hear each other much better.
And we did come closer. We did resolve what needed to be resolved. I did feel heard and understood. And we did come back to the loving.

I wanted to share this in case it would be helpful to others. Relationships can be hard. And sometimes there are difficult conversations we have to have with our partner, and we’re afraid to do it. It’s scary, vulnerable, and challenging.

But if you preface your conversation with an intention similar to the one I said, or whatever your positive intention is, it can really help frame the conversation you’re about to have, and help you and your partner relax knowing that they don’t need to put their armor on and gear up for a fight.

Do you ever do this or something similar in your relationship? I’d love to hear from you if so.

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