We Bring Out the Evil in Each Other
Written By: Mark Smith
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A new guy came to my Men's Group this week. We had crammed a bunch of dudes into a small office because the electricity had gone out in a four block radius and we needed a room with windows for the light. With no air conditioning that room started to smell like a ripe sweat hut after a while. It was a motley crew to say the least. The group is awesome really, a safe environment for men to be human and vulnerable.
New guy was sharing his story. In his early 30's his second marriage was hanging by the thinnest of threads. Then he said he didn't understand why, but he and wife number two brought out evil in each other. The look on his face was one of confusion and regret and great sadness. His childhood story was even sadder than his adult story. I won't go into great detail in order to preserve his confidentiality, but he was abandoned violently, cruelly and completely by his father. That resulted in his mother having to work all the time so he was abandoned by her as well. The early relationship with his parents unfortunately was the foundation and the very heart and soul of any romantic relationship that he would ever have with a woman. Love is about recreating the pain of your childhood. I wish that wasn't true but it is the truth about love, dating and marriage. It is natures way of giving us opportunities to heal our deep childhood wounds. This young man has always and will always only be attracted to women who abandon him the cruelest and most violent manner possible. In his first marriage his young bride cheated on him with HIS BEST FRIEND! It doesn't get much more cruel than that. In marriage #2 he had come home and discovered that his wife, his baby and almost all of his stuff were gone! Again, abrupt and startling abandonment. He is very little on the inside and he attracts women who are also very little, primitive and reactive. At least now he knows why it is happening and how to work on making it better. Before learning the meaning of love it was like he was banging and bloodying his shins in a pitch dark room in every relationship. Every relationship ultimately turned into a nightmare.
We all don't start on a level playing field when it comes to emotional health. While we all have significant issues, some of us have more than others. If there is abandonment, emotional distance, rage, violence or abuse of any kind in your childhood then you are only going to be attracted to lovers who you will ultimately discover are abandoning, distant, raging, violent and abusive. That is your heritage. If you had that type of relationship and you don't agree with that statement you obviously haven't been in your relationship for very long and/or you haven't been in many relationships yet.
I recently worked with an extremely reactive couple who did what I called "the crazy dance" with each other. They both were severely abandoned as children, they were both highly emotionally reactive and they were both needy and involved with other people. They totally brought the evil out in each other. I told them that after a two hour session with them I couldn't decide if I wanted to put both of them out of their misery or if I wanted to cut my own wrists. She had been intensely abandoned by her father and he grew up watching parents do their version of the crazy dance. Marriages like that are almost impossible to salvage. Sadly this one is headed for a contentious divorce.
Every couple brings out 'evil' in each other. We marry people who are world class experts as hurting us. If you understand what the purpose of marriage is then all that evil between you can be turned into something proactive, redemptive and ultimately marriage saving. I have another new couple who bring massive amounts of pain, disgust, disrespect and derision in for each other each week. But they are hearing me. I can see the light coming on in their eyes. They are starting to shift their focuses off of each other and onto their childhood wounds. We are reducing their levels of perceived victimization during each session. They are putting down their weapons. I see tremendous hope for their marriage. They are starting to become therapy buddies rather than adversaries. That is a beautiful thing. Bitterness destroys marriages and children but it also destroys the individuals who indulge in it. It makes them dark, cold, untrusting and not eligible for a healthy relationship in the future.
Learn from the evil that goes on between you and your spouse. It is your teacher. It is your opportunity to learn about who you are and where you came from. It is all good. It seems like I write that almost every week, but it is true. There are no bad guys and no victims in relationships, just opportunities to heal and grow and learn. While they might seem like your supporter, any third party that affirms your victim role is your worst enemy. They are poison. Your best friend is the spouse who is bringing the pain into your life so that you can get down to business with your self. Have and open heart and an open mind when you go sit in front of that therapist. The evil between you and your spouse can develop into a mature love and respect that has the depth that can last forever. You don't have to get a divorce, no matter how much evil has gone down. Your spouse isn't your problem. Your childhood is your problem. Fix that and your love life will follow suit.
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