By Michele Willmott
When I hit the peri-menopause in my mid-40s I started to seriously question my relationship. I had a voice in my head that kept telling me that there was someone else better out there for me.
It delighted in pointing out all my husband’s flaws and weaknesses. This coupled with the emotional turbulence I was experiencing because of the change in my hormones was anxiety producing to say the least.
We had been married for 19 years and had enjoyed a wonderful relationship in so many ways. Was it the case that we had just grown apart over the years and it was time to move on, or was there still hope for us?
It was my job to help other women in navigating their love lives, so you’d have thought that I’d have had my relationship sorted!
Thankfully, knowing what I know about love I started to realise that I was sabotaging my marriage. It was a case of my out of date conditioned thinking and behaviours coming up, which needed to be healed.
We all know that relationships are not straightforward. Individuals change over time and some couples are undoubtedly better off apart, especially when abuse is present. However, our conditioning runs deep.
All human beings are wired for survival and as a result we have parts of us, known as our shadows, that are rooted in fear. Shadow selves can wreck many a healthy relationship because they tend to take the view that it would be easier to jump ship than take a closer look.
The sad thing about this is that when a couple hit a rough patch, it is more likely that the relationship is calling you and your partner forward to grow. I say to many of my clients ‘just around the corner from your conflict is the opportunity for huge transformation’.
Many women make the mistake of thinking that they are far ahead of their man. Whilst women are certainly more in touch with their emotions overall, most women still have a hard time relating to these emotions in a healthy way. In my experience, they do not know how to express themselves in a way that will bring their partner closer largely because no one teaches us how to do this.
Coupled with the fact that men generally have a hard time accessing their emotions this often leads to many women criticising, blaming and nagging their partner. This in turn can encourage men to become defensive, passive aggressive and to shut down even more.
I have lost count of the number of female clients who despite being on the verge of leaving, realised they needed to take greater responsibility for their emotions and do some work to move past their patterns of sabotage. This in most cases has led to a complete about turn in the relationship, with healthier communication, greater connection and the feeling that their partner is able to hear and understand them on a completely new level.
Men, of course, need to be prepared to look at themselves too, although I hasten to add that this does not mean they should be dragged down to the local marriage therapist. I will let you into a secret here, my husband has had zero therapy and we now enjoy a relationship that enjoys a far deeper emotional and physical connection than it did even in its early days.
All patterns of sabotage essentially come down to the fear of being rejected and the associated pain. We are scared to trust ourselves to be able to create what we are looking for because of these fears. When we do not trust ourselves, we find it impossible to trust our partner to meet us in our desires and needs.
Some different forms of relationship sabotage to look out for are:
· Low Self Worth – the feeling that you are unlovable or not enough.
· Comparison – always looking at other people’s relationships and thinking they are better
· Avoidance – waiting for your partner to change or to initiate plans or a discussion.
· Victimhood – constantly feeling you are alone, burdened (or a burden) or that everything is so hard.
· Overthinking – constantly analysing your relationship and looking for perfection.
· A lack of responsibility – not taking responsibility for your emotions or your true power to create what you want.
As a result of reading this article you might be thinking how do I know if it is worth staying in my relationship? Here are some important points to look for:
· Your partner is a decent person with a good moral compass.
· You share common values.
· There is generally a sense of mutual support for each other’s goals and career paths.
· You do not really want to leave.
· You still have times when you get on well with each other and can have fun.
At the end of the day it is worth remembering that as human beings we have a tendency towards sabotage because we fear rejection. This is the reason why I always recommend that you take action to explore your underlying fears and shadows before leaving. Often your fears are just a tiny step away from receiving a much greater love than you could ever imagine.
Michele is a qualified psychotherapist and fully certified coach. She works with women, men & couples specialising in helping them overcome the shadows that hold them back from creating the relationship they have always wanted.