Improve Your Marriage By Letting Go of Fear and Pain Holding things inside and a lack of communication can lead your marriage down a very dark path. Stop demonizing your fear and pain and recognize what matters most. BY WENDY STRGAR
Turn your back on fear and pain and face your demons.
“ We demonize our emotional experiences by our inability to attend to them.”
Perhaps the most normal and least helpful response that we humans have to our emotional pain and fear is the habit of looking away or trying to suppress our feelings, especially when it comes to communicating with our spouse. Most of us are not trained or adept at dealing with the fear, rejection and pain that life and marriage often presents.
Emotional injuries from childhood that were never processed become silent filters that impact how we perceive and understand our entire lives. Our feelings can seem so large and overwhelming that they threaten to consume us whole. When we refuse our emotional experiences, they grow into demons that become the lifeblood of our identity.
The demons that run our lives become an infinite number of manifestation—they are as unique as we are in personality yet universal in the needs we all share. The problem living with things like fearing a divorce or the pain of dealing with something like betrayal can include everything from conflicts with people we love, to anxiety about communicating, discomfort with our appearance, the terror of being abandoned, or the shame of feeling worthless. We demonize our emotional experiences by our inability to attend to them. Anything that calls for our attention and is continuously rebuffed will become an active demon inside of you.
The issue of demonizing our fears and pain is as old as recorded history. It was first recorded in ancient Buddhist practices one thousand years ago. The practice has been translated and modernized for our times in an extremely user-friendly version called Feeding your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict. Written by a former Buddhist nun, Tsultrim Allione, the book provides a helpful five step process to identifying and attending to the experiences and emotions that prevent us from joining life.
Although the idea of feeding and nurturing our internal enemies flies in the face of the conventional approach of overcoming and eliminating our weaknesses, getting intimate with the parts of ourselves that we generally unsuccessfully cut off from ourselves makes great sense. Instead of battling with the places that scare us, we invite them in, take a good look at them and try to find a way to give them what they need. If ever a Buddhist path offered a way to true liberation, this is it. And you don’t even have to sit. You just have to be courageous enough to embody your feelings and listen.
Dismantling and integrating our internal demons has the added benefit of developing the skills of attending and turning towards our feelings before they become the monsters that can control us. Once you’ve recognized this, you will give your marriage the chance to grow in a positive direction without the fear and pain of the past.
Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family. In her new book, "Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy," she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative advice. It has been called "the essential guide for relationships." The book is available on ebook. Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13-23 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.