Sometimes you have to sacrifice things in your relationship. My wife and I are at a point right now where we aren’t on the same page and I’m convinced that a lot of it has to do with me.
I’ve been on a bit of a journey for the last couple of months and it hasn’t been a very pleasant one.
It’s easy to focus on all the parts of ourselves that others admire or that we admire about ourselves, It is a whole other story to really look at the parts that we want to avoid or tend to ignore.
Right now the area that is really being triggered for me is the part that seeks external validation for myself through my results. ‘What I’ve produced’, ‘who I’ve helped’, ‘what I’ve accomplished’ are all forcing me to look at the aspect of myself that is VERY results oriented.
I think as men this is a big part of how we construct ourselves– we tie ourselves and our worth to the external world. And while I think it’s important and a great way to keep score, I also believe that if we rely on that alone to get our sense of self-worth, then our sense of self becomes very fragile and hangs by a tenuous strip, especially when we have a downturn in performance.
Break the link for external validation
As men, breaking that link so that it’s not the only place we rely on to get validation is essential for our growth.
It’s also important that we honour and understand that it has it’s usefulness as well.
Being action oriented, goal driven and ambitious are what has us strive to be better men, gives us a sense of motivation and purpose and has us continue to fight even when things seem hopeless.
I’m finding that there is a real paradox here. On the one hand you don’t want to rely on external factors to validate who you are (ie: what people say about you, how much money you have in the bank, what results you produced etc), but you also don’t want to shut that part of you off completely as it is something that fuels and drives you to produce in the world.
I think there is a balance that can be struck, that has just enough of it being used to further your growth, but not so much that it is completely running you.
This plays a huge role not only in who we are as a man for ourself in the mirror, but also in how it affects the ones we love around us. Especially our partners.
Embrace your shadow
I believe that the real work, especially when it comes to relationship is to learn to embrace that shadows that exists inside of you. Anything that I can’t love in myself, I’ll have no chance of loving it outside of me.
And that is problematic because without taking the time to fully embrace everything you are and everything you aren’t, you walk around as an incomplete human – not because you are actually missing pieces but because that’s how you identify and relate to yourself.
Think about it, if there are parts of you that you can’t be with, then there is no way that you can be complete with who you are, because there are still parts of you that you don’t accept.
So where does the part about sacrifice come in here?
In order for me to really take this on, I’ve had to look and see where I look for external validation in all areas of my life. And up front and center I saw that my relationship was another place I use to prove to myself that I am alright.
And so I have had to take a step back from the intimacy and closeness I’ve felt in my relationship to be able to differentiate the ways in which I use it’s health and my wife’s happiness as a way to feed my ego and feel good about myself when the rest of the world isn’t validating me.
This is not to say that my wife or the relationship is not important to me, it is and they are, but I noticed that desire and want to have a great marriage or awesome connection with her was starting to coming from a place of proving something about myself. I was beginning to use the relationship not only as a place for mutual connection and support but as the place for me to draw from when I’m feeling low because the other areas of my life seemed hard.
And while I do believe our relationship with our spouse can be a well-spring for intimacy and esteem using it as a crutch or sole source is not healthy for you, her or the relationship you both share.
Generate love for yourself
In reality no one or no thing can do that work for, I have to be able to generate it myself. That as a man I have to be able to create and cultivate that from scratch for me first before looking for it outside of me.
It’s been an uncomfortable ride and one that is not over yet, but I know that what lies on the other side will not only be sweet surrender and bliss, but a new level of Self.
You may be going through your own dark time right now or your own version of difficulty and that’s why I wrote this. To let you know a few things:
Firstly, everyone, even the people you think have everything together deal with adversity of some kind in their life – no one is immune.
Secondly you’re not alone and you will eventually get out of it. And lastly to remind you that it is worth it and to not give up.
The key is to just keep fighting.
Forget about what you are walking towards, because when you’re in the gutter you can’t always see what’s ahead. All you have to do is focus on placing one foot in front of the other. Take that one next step. Then another and another.
Winston Churchill said it the best, “When you are going through hell, keep going”
And that’s what I plan to do, to keep going, one step at a time.
So wherever you are and whatever you are dealing with know that step by step you will make it through.
I can’t tell you how long it will take but as someone who is in it too I look forward to seeing you you on the other side.