Wednesday, March 16, 2005

When negative feelings get in the way

When negative feelings get in the way

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Wednesday, March 16, 2005 12:57 AM

Part 2 of 4 parts

If you look carefully at how marriages and relationships come apart, you will notice how feelings lie beneath it all. It is often difficult and sometimes impossible to fix marital problems because feelings keep getting in the way.

Here is an angry woman who cannot seem to control her temper. She is impatient, aggressive with a sharp tongue. She is quick to lash out at her spouse, her kids and anyone who gets in her way. In quieter moments, she hates herself for getting out of control and wishes that she would change, but she claims she cannot. She doesn’t know why she is like this, only that this is the way she has always been.

The problem is that her husband is getting fed up with her violent outbursts and is thinking of leaving her. He can no longer take the punishment and wants out of the marriage. She doesn’t want to talk about it and expects him to “accept me as I am because I accept him as he is.” She does not accept him, of course. This is why they are continuously at war. You can explain all the theories and the concepts that you like, but until and unless she gets a grip on her feelings, nothing will happen to stop the relationship from deteriorating further. The husband has his feelings, too, and they could just as easily get in the way of the healing process.

Our days are full of all kinds of feelings. Our ups and downs are caused not so much by what happens to us, but rather how we feel about what happens. Two people undergo the same experiences and both of them feel very different about them.

In any relationship, it is of paramount importance that we not only identify and know our feelings well, but we also need to understand where they are coming from. This is so that we can respond in an appropriate manner.

I don’t drink because my dad was an alcoholic and died because of it. I feared becoming like him so I never drank and don’t intend to. But I don’t resent those who do drink. I even work with alcoholics and live with them at our Nazareth House. My wife Emmy’s dad was also an alcoholic and she vowed she would never marry a man who drank. She had very strong feelings about the matter.

Sometimes, if we are unaware of our feelings, we can get drawn into undesirable relationships or, on the other hand, walk away from desirable ones. All because of unrecognized feelings.

After knowing and understanding our feelings, it is most important that we be willing to talk about them openly with those who matter to us. So many marital problems arise because of raw feelings that are kept inside and go unrecognized and misunderstood. Couples that are poor in communicating their feelings in a proper way find themselves throwing their feelings around like fighters throwing punches in a slugfest.

Feelings of love are great, but along with them will come a host of other feelings that will creep into a relationship. Unless we know how to deal with them, they can become a destructive force that can neutralize all those loving feelings.


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