the strings that pull my heart – part 1


 Brad and I had our 12th wedding anniversary last May.  I  can’t remember if I told you all back then, but anyway, there it is.  And I thought about those 12 years, and how I’d always expected that our relationship would grow steadily, in an upward trend, with maybe a few bumps here and there.  But that is not the way it happened at all.  Our most miserable time was three years into it while I was pregnant the first time.  After my son was born life was remarkably better, and even better still after child number two.  Since then it’s been up and down.  Actually, since then we’ve seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  Our relationship seems steady to me now, except that I still have this complaint, or this hole in my heart that refuses to be filled, this unmet need, or this need that refuses to be met.

It’s unfortunate that we are in a place in our lives where it’s even harder to fill now.  Demanding home life with kids, demanding job that sucks out his energy.  There is little left to give at 9pm when it’s sort of quiet.  I think that I was drawn to ttwd because it oozed of interaction, attention, focused attention and love.  Even when we were dating I yearned for the kind of attention that I could never quite describe or explain, and I don’t know if I got if I would recognize it.  I wanted to feel loved and wanted above everything else.  Throughout our marriage there have been many times when I’ve wanted to, or have, said “Pleeeasssse, just pay attention to me.  I don’t know what that means, or what it looks like, but I need something else from you.  I am so lonely”.  I sound sad, broken, unfixable, to my own ears.  It kind of makes me sick. 

A while ago I talked about how my therapist said that we all tend to marry people that have some of the best and worst characteristics of our parents.  She gave me a set of work sheets that came from a seminar she was at once about this type of thing.   There is also a book, I can’t remember the name of the author or the book, sorry.  I am going to tell you how to do the worksheet and you can do it if you want to, or not.  I found these worksheets to be…I’m not sure how to describe the experience other than I looked at something that I’d heard before in a different way and it was a breath of fresh air.  Therapist said that most people have this reaction.   Brad and I did the two worksheets separately and then talked about it together later.  I do recommend that you do all of worksheet one before you even look at the second.  I am only going to give you the first one today anyway.  This page was labeled Brief Relationship Workup.

So if you want to do it, here is what you do…

A. Across the top of a paper write  Mother, Father, and Other if applicable.  Underneath those columns you write down the positive traits of characteristics or your primary caretakers. For ex, warm, loving, sense of humor, intelligent….  When you are done circle the five most significant/impactful traits- the ones that had the most impact on you.  Don’t worry if you can’t pick 5, just pick up to 5.

B. Now make the same columns again underneath… mother, father….  This time under each list negative traits or characteristics of your caregivers.  Use words like never there, critical, anxious, angry…..  Again circle top five impactful traits.

C. List three things you needed most and didn’t get from your caretakers.  (Such as more time, acceptance, encouragement…)

D.  You will have three columns again:  Childhood frustrations, What you felt, What you actually did.  Underneath each column going across list three different frustrations…

For ex. my number one was 1. parents didn’t explain/talk about important life changing events/decisions   1. I felt frustrated, angry, alone 1. I cried, withdrew and argued

So you go across like that for three separate frustrations. 

The next post will be the second worksheet.  If you do this I encourage you to try to be really accurate with your answers, it will make the second exercise that much more meaningful.  Later I will share more of my answers.


2 thoughts on “the strings that pull my heart – part 1

  1. Meow says:

    Marriage is never a smooth trail, is it? Thanks for giving us some interesting ideas to think about. Our darkest times were followed by a gradual dawning of understanding each other in new ways. With love, we got through those dark times and with work, we found new ways to love each other.

  2. Sara says:

    Ally, one of the things we all do in our primary adult relationship (marriage) is to repeat old issues, try to work through unresolved problems from our childhoods. They haunt us unless we fix what was wrong and left undone. We can carry old hurts and fears and anxieties with us too, and project them on our partner. Sometimes, we pick a partner that is much like the parent that we had the most difficulty with. Freud called this “a repetition compulsion”. The only way to change this is to change ourselves, to understand what drives us, what is missing, what needs fixing, and then do that work so we can come to our partner with a cleaner slate, so to speak. It’s a lot of work…lifelong, in fact, but it sounds like you are on your way. Me too! 🙂

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