I love and hate my husband. Shocked? There are things about him which I can't tolerate and end up having to just ignore. And I don't mean just that he doesn't pick up his socks (which he doesn't.) I know he feels the same way. For many years, he's called those parts he hates - the alien. One morning he woke, he says, looked across the bed and saw her - the alien.
I'm too anxious, he thinks. He risks too much, I think. I want more order; he's more laid-back. I need lots more reassurance, he has traditionally needed more autonomy. Even today, we're in the backyard with our dogs, working under the trees with our separate laptops enjoying some parallel work. We talk about going for a long walk later and he mentions he's going to the pool. I feel let down. Our togetherness will be broken. I know it's clingy and crazy. I still feel it. The difference now is I don't whine about it. I let go. Fortunately for him, sex is reassuring to me.
Sometimes we see the shadow in our partner at the altar. So many young couples tell me that sex goes off-line for them almost on their wedding day. Truly the veil is lifted from our eyes and suddenly we see the imperfection of who we are marrying. It's frightening - sometimes frightening enough to not want to give the love we've just promised.
Twenty-seven years ago, as I shut the hotel door on my wedding night, I asked myself, "what do I really know about this man?!" He told me I hadn't danced with him enough at the reception. One night we didn't make love in Hawaii; I didn't know what to make of it. We both felt devastated at some point on the honeymoon. Our perfection had been quickly shattered.
Being a "good-enough" parent means acknowledging that we love and hate our kids. Sometimes they are little sh*ts. I know we drive them crazy too - they love and hate us. I follow an extremely, funny, Facebook friend who shares all the magnificent things her kid does.Occasionally she wants to strangle her precious darling too. I'm sure my friend is a terrific mother because she doesn't spend any energy fretting over her parental ambivalence. Our youngest son says his dad is the most patient person he knows. Dad's password for monitoring the kids' computer time and access has been "kidssuck." We all have mixed feelings for our loved ones. Acknowledging them on the inside allows us to get a hold of the shadow.
Light and dark. It's inside us too. We hate that we're not perfect, that we come from families that are slightly crazy (or mostly crazy) that now we do things that are halfway crazy. Parts that we hated about our parents are now manifest in our relationships. Yuck. Somehow accepting our shadow gives us space to begin to understand it. My husband says that all our personality parts have good intentions but sometimes don't know about effective ways to help us and end up hurting us. Worrying about our own shadow can take all the energy we've got and give our partner a break as we let up on them.
Last night, someone at my Social Saturday gathering said, she believed everyone had a little "bat-shit crazy" in them. I do - I'll bet you do too.
Hint - if you read this post and thought, "my partner needs to read this," you missed my point.
Link for more help from Laurie Watson with SexTherapy in Raleigh, Cary, Greensboro and Chapel Hill, NC. Laurie’s book Wanting Sex Again is available on Amazon!