I adore taking vacations, but I absolutely hate packing. Just when I am ready to relax the last thing I want to do is expend the mental energy required to think through every single possibility for clothing needs that may come my way during the trip. That’s way too much mental energy for this free spirit. Most of us don’t realize, however, that we are already packed! We carry around with us our own baggage: implicit memories from childhood wounds that get triggered in marital conflict. Why do our bags wait until marriage to come off the carousel? Because it is within marriage that we find ourselves to be most vulnerable – due to the marital commitment we can’t do our usual avoidance dance. If you were triggered when dating, you could say “Good bye” or ghost someone. Not so in a committed relationship with contract, joint accounts and family expectations….
One of the Top 5 Reasons Couples Fight is they don’t understand or appreciate the baggage they brought into their marriage. When not recognized it leads towards blame shifting and conflict escalation, as old wounds rise to the surface in current conflict. And as this baggage goes unrecognized the “traveler” grows in frustration as the spouse is looked to be the source as well as the healer of the pain – and oftentimes the recipient of the blame responds in confusion “I didn’t even know I was on that trip!!” This is why marital conflict, or the Dance, can seem so intractable, because the conflict isn’t within our spouse it’s within us. With the help of a trained therapist, particularly those with systems thinking (MFTs, IFS) and knowledge of attachment theory, you can get the help you need to understand your baggage and how it impacts your relationship – the first step toward healing and intimacy.