Daily InspirationLearn to care about yourself enough to be around others who are caring, and accept that you cannot make others care. By Dr. Margaret Paul
"Divorced and Reconciled – But It's Not Working"By Dr. Margaret Paul
July 08, 2013
After reconciling with your partner, do you find yourself back in the same pattern?
Nancy wrote to me asking the following question:
"My husband and I were married for 15 years. Divorced. Reconciled after 9 months and re-married. I am having second thoughts about the reconciliation and I've become introverted with no desire to communicate or be close. I feel very protective of my personal affairs and feelings. The more he pushes the farther away I remove myself from the relationship. I feel the relationship is severely co-dependent. How do we break the co-dependency? What steps can I take to figure out why my need to protect is so extreme?"
Nancy, it sounds like the underlying issue is that your husband wants to have control over how you feel about him, and you are in resistance to being controlled. As long as controlling and not being controlled is the intent governing your relationship, your relationship cannot heal.
Both of you are operating from fear rather than from love, and both of you are abandoning yourselves. He is abandoning himself by not taking responsibility for his feelings, and then pulling on you to give him what he needs to give to himself. You are abandoning yourself by shutting down rather than learning to take loving care of yourself. Neither of you are coming from a loving adult self who knows how to take responsibility for your own feelings.
Your husband is making you responsible for his feelings, which feels invasive to you. You likely love his essence, which is why you married him in the first place and why you re-married him, but you lose sight of his essence when he operates from his wounded self – acting needy of your attention.
You are also operating from your wounded self. The only way your wounded self knows how to protect against being controlled and invaded is to pull away. But if you do your Inner Bonding work and develop your loving adult self, then you can lovingly say 'no' to taking responsibility for his feelings without closing your heart and pulling away.
Underneath, you likely have a fear of engulfment, while he likely has a fear of rejection. It sounds like you are afraid that if you are open to your husband, you will lose yourself, so you pull back to protect yourself from engulfment. Your fear of engulfment, while deeply rooted in your childhood, can be healed when you learn to take loving care of yourself. Your withdrawal is triggering his fear of rejection, and his neediness is triggering your fear of engulfment.
Healing Your Relationship
Co-dependent relationships heal when at least one partner shifts their intent toward learning how to take responsibility for their own feelings.
If you were to shift your intent - from protecting against losing yourself, to learning to love yourself - your relationship system would shift. If your intent were to love yourself rather than resist being controlled, then instead of withdrawing, you would learn to take responsibility for your own feelings by speaking your truth, being in the intent to learn with him, and setting loving limits regarding being controlled by him. You would be compassionately curious about why he pushes and pulls at you. You would let him in on how scary it feels to you when he makes you responsible for his feelings. The two of you would enter a learning process that would bring you closer to each other – if he was also willing to open to learning.
Even if he isn't open to learning with you, you can start to heal your relationship by doing your own inner work, learning to take loving care of yourself in the face of his pull on you. And, you might be very surprised at what happens between you when you are no longer triggering his fear of rejection!
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