We, my husband and I, [too bad you guys don't know what I'm talking about- tongue in cheek] are in remission. We stopped letting our emotions ruin our relationship. We almost had a relapse but we resolved it fairly quickly.
We used to feel impassioned emotions like: "That's not fair!," "You wouldn't do this to 'x'," "Why didn't you know that?" We felt very entitled to saying those things... inflaming words. I even had this weird thing of feeling sexually aroused when we were engaged in fighting. (Come to think of it, that is a very natural reaction to a very messed up personal history. Maybe I'll share more of that later) If you're nodding your head with understanding... read on...
We went through a period where my husband would say "Don't tell me how to feel." After a while, I got so used to him (and I) airing our feelings that I realized that that was only half the relationship battle. That wasn't the answer to end all fights.
It took us a really long time to realize that our feelings are subjective and valid only to ourselves. Due to our love for each other we've learned to honor that part of each other. We stopped putting ownership of those feeling onto our spouse and owning it. When we started doing that- our emotions were not volatile to our relationship any longer. We learned to share intimate things knowing that we had the restraint not to let it go south.
We never said hateful things. We always knew we loved each other. We spoke out of fear and out of trauma. Just because we stopped letting our emotions rule our conversations in no ways mean that we've stopped feeling. In fact, now we feel better about our emotions because we experience them without letting them get "radioactive" (thank you to Pastor Jimmy Evans, of Marriage Today Ministries).
We've learned that it's okay to feel those feelings in context. We also frame them in a way that we own them and that they are NOT the full reality of the situation. For example: the other day my husband was mad at the way I handled a parenting situation. He saw what he saw and based his reaction off of that. We decided to give each other time to decompress from the tension. In my private space, I decided that he acted off the limitations of his perception (not the full situation) and that if I had been in the same position I'd be led to feel similarly. I also didn't let his frustration predict the future of our marriage. I didn't make any "corollaries" off of this ONE interaction. I left it as "He felt X because he saw X and didn't see X."
Also, we pretty much know that our fears of X are probably not going to go away but things are a lot more secure to the point where we can attribute certain things to our fears and not to a relationship matter. It seems like a lot of work (emotional labor). But it's become pretty natural after ditching the stupid cycle pertaining to our relationship (not every body else's). The rewards have been much sweeter and make the "dying to self" in those situations that much more worth it.
We, despite the fact that I'm a believer and he isn't (Do I get more cred now? wink), have been able to use little strategies like I just shared to navigate the complexity of our blended family. Sometimes we get in the way of our relationships and it just isn't so apparent until things get nauseously irritating. We were tired of being stupid. And now, we just practice a lot of acceptance toward each other and tweaked our expectations to point toward ourselves.
I don't want to sound like we did this ALL on our own. I must give credit to the Lord Above, the creator of marriage. But I say this very honestly that we really do enjoy each other more fully now and I see that as God's blessing for treating each other (both his children) with more grace. I hope that you can have this clarity in your relationships as well.
I pray that this message is greeting you in an inspired moment. Blessings~