Being Married Is Like Boiling In A Pot Of Spicy Chili
Written By: Mark Smith
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I had an intense dream the other night. I saw a man completely covered in chili. All that wasn't covered with chili were his bugged out eyes. In my dream he brushed up against me and got some of the chili on my chest. It was so spicy that it burned and irritated my skin. I then rushed to the bathroom and washed it off. I knew immediately what the dream meant when I woke up. I've had some Jungian training in dream interpretation. Your dreams are basically intensive therapy hidden translated by your unconscious into code so as not to be so disturbing that they don't wake you up every time. Since I had been in a lot of searing emotional pain recently in my significant other relationship I associated it immediately with the pain of my relationship. Since then I have been using it as a metaphor that I think is very powerful. The price of being in a relationship is that eventually you will spend quite a bit of time boiling in a proverbial pot of spicy chili. You will marry someone whose very nature is built to have the ability to hurt you deeper than anyone else on the planet can. It is human nature to avoid pain. You noticed that in the dream I ran to the bathroom and washed the chili off my skin ASAP. We run from painful experiences. If you haven't ever experienced awful, emotionally violent pain in your relationship then this Blog posting won't make any sense to you. But the day is coming, I assure you, that you will experience exactly what I'm describing. Your time in the chili pot is coming.
The typical reaction to that kind of emotional pain being inflicted in a relationship is a required trip to a therapist's office followed by a trip to a lawyer's office if the trip to the therapist's office didn't take. We are shocked when our parent hurts us so deeply. We shouldn't be. Given how broken and dysfunctional our childhoods were, how can we expect that adulthood would hold the promise of safety and happiness for decades? Marriage is NOT a safe place emotionally. It is designed to cause you the worst kind of pain that you can imagine. We all get quite a few emotional wounds during childhood. Mother Nature then provides us with enough psychological defensive mechanisms to get us through the next 20 years or so in relative ignorant, numbed out bliss. We aren't capable of knowing hurtful truths about ourselves, our families or our spouses. It isn't time for that. I rarely ever have seen anyone under 30 do much in the way of effective therapy. Mother Nature needed a tool to take down the psychological walls that she provided as temporary protection during childhood and young adulthood. Mother Nature or God, if you will, would really like to heal your deepest emotional wounds. It is nature’s nature to heal itself. The body is the most amazing healing mechanism ever devised. Mother Nature’s chosen weapon to tear down your psychological defenses so that you can face off with who you really are and where you really came from - a crazy little thing called love and marriage. Everyone is attracted to exactly the right person. There are no relationship mistakes. WE pick who we need to pick and we deserve what they bring to us. It is what we recruited them for. There are no victims in marriage, ever. Your marriage is a gift intended to help you to heal and grow. Are you thankful for the gift? It is sometimes difficult to be thankful when part of the gift of your spouse is them boiling you in a pot of spicy chili from time to time.
Imago therapy is a brand of family systems therapy very much like the Family Tree brand of therapy except it is on an International level. Harville Hendricks, the founder of Imago therapy (pictured with me at a conference last year) says some simple and yet quite brilliant things. He said "The intentionally conscious couple makes a decision to see couple hood as a growth and healing journey." Imago's best local representative is Bern Baca, Ph.D. He is a brilliant, if not somewhat quirky therapist who operates out of his home hear Broadripple. In a recent couple's retreat he said "What we do in our culture is blame our partner rather than seeing them as a tremendous asset in our healing process." That is a priceless quote. It alone can save you the pain and great expense of a divorce. It takes a lot of re-framing to shift an embittered wife to seeing her addictive husband as being an asset verses just being an ass! Dr. Baca also said "Ultimately not a huge amount gets fixed in the marriage when all is said and done. You just have to get to the point of accepting who your spouse is. Ironically, that is the point that they will begin to give you what you want and need." Accepting the flaws, dysfunction and brokenness of your spouse is directly related to your awareness of the level of your own flaws, dysfunction and brokenness and that of the family you were raised in. Your spouse is always equally as crazy as you are. Scary thought, huh?
Don't be shocked or discouraged if your marriage is a source of tremendous pain for you. That is completely normal and it can actually be a very good thing ultimately. Your spouse is your teacher. They are in your life to break you down and to force you to do work on yourself. They will join you in the boiling pot of spicy chili. You cause them as much pain as they are causing you. Learn from your pain. Don't feel ill-used or victimized. If you do then you would be missing the point entirely. Do not join with our society's tendency to scapegoat and blame the acting out, imperfect and screwing up spouse. Dig deep within your own family history to gain an understanding of why you married who you married and what issues are they attempting to stir deep within your soul. This theory of mine is not psychobabble. It is an immutable law of nature. If you were to divorce your problematic spouse you will just marry another version of them the next time around. Marriage problems really aren't marriage problems; they are childhood problems in disguise. Try to stay out of the chili pot my friends. But if you end up in one (and you will), learn from it. Turn it into the pivotal growth opportunity of your lifetime. It is all good. The pain is worth the end result of a connected, usually fulfilling, sometimes still in the chili pot, lifelong partnership that you can build a successful life around.
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