I meet with clients in my coaching and psychotherapy practice fairly often who talk about the deeply held resentments they carry toward their spouses. Wives, especially, are often increasingly silent, opting instead to voice their anger by acting out in various ways toward the husbands they feel have stopped listening to words. Recently, I met with a woman who chronicled years of stonewalling by her preoccupied, dismissive husband. Until our work began, she had given up trying to talk to him about her needs and concerns, and pointed to the elaborate, designer boots she was wearing, telling me in a conspiratorial tone, that this pair had been purchased in one of her rages toward him. Apparently, she had accumulated closets full of boots, her “weapon of choice”, costing up to $1200. a pair! She had even bought mis-sized boots, just for the “thrill” of spite and revenge against the man whom she felt had so violated their marriage with his disregard, disrespect, and entitlement. She felt that a clear sign of hope, and progress in her work with me on assertiveness and appropriate limit-setting, was the fact that boots were now being returned, no longer being bought! We laughed sadly about how the increased closet space could be seen as such a clear indicator of psychological progress – her ability to re-engage and speak up with her mouth, not her feet.
It made me think about the issue of “silence”, and not only my own arsenal of “weapons”, but also the weapons of choice others use — booze, shopping, smoking, affairs, food, gambling, pornography, drugs, internet, work, etc. Then there’s the issue of who ultimately gets wounded in the process, and what, if anything, is gained at what cost?
So, I invite anyone in a marriage marked by disappointment, frustration, and resentments, (everyone’s marriage at some points?), to think about this: What is your weapon of choice in your marriage?
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