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McCloskey Counseling Couples & Individual | San Antonio TX | Austin TX | Marriage Counseling & Psychotherapy | Blog » One Thing

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Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are. - Augustine

One Thing

Posted by: Mike McCloskey on December 12th, 10:39 PM. 4 Comments

“What is the number one issue you see as really messing up marriages?” A friend asked me this question recently. I confess I really dislike questions like this. Perhaps I shouldn’t but I think what they provoke is the idea that there is something, if properly understood and applied, would lead to an easy-to-follow path toward harmony and happiness - you know, a kind of technological approach to life and relationships. I wish this were the case. But maybe the necessarily murkier path is better in that it requires much more from us than simply following a script. A path toward a deeper understanding of our truest selves, no matter how dark, requiring a kind of faith we know little of.

How would you answer this question that my friend asked? So many marriages, probably all, are marred by some level of discontent, deadness, disappointment, even violence and hatred. Some would say what is needed is more time together, better communication, less selfishness, better conflict resolution. There are myriad ways to think about what blocks development of the kind of intimacy and comfort that marriage promises. 

All the above solutions seem to be the kind which direct themselves toward an if/then way of thinking. For example, if our problem is selfishness, then it would follow that we need to be less selfish and try to think more often of the other. Don’t get me wrong. We should be less selfish and attempt to do all we can to foster more loving relationships. But I am wondering, what are the kinds of things which are brewing underneath the surface of our best efforts which makes change so hard?

I want to attempt a response to the question that opens a door rather than closes one, a response which may raise more questions than it answers. So, here is my thought. We are people who, at the core of our being, are terrified and furious. What I am talking about is not simply emotions, that is, the sense that one would feel afraid or angry. Rather, I wonder if we don’t live, deeply underneath our skin, in a state of fear or anger. A state is something that we may feel or not, but is nonetheless part of our thinking, interactions and behavior.

I would much rather think of myself as selfish or frustrated than afraid or angry. Thinking about the reality of fear and anger in my soul leads to the harder questions of what my fear and anger are about and what will others might do with this part of me. If what I am suggesting is closer to what is really happening inside of us than that which is repaired by simply living differently, then perhaps a richer understanding of our fear and anger has the power to bring to the surface our deepest and most fragile self, the self which knows that we need a more profound healing than to simply live differently.

What are you afraid of? What are you angry about? What do your answers reveal about yourself?

Comments

  • By: TJ on December 13th 2:23 AM

    "Thinking about the reality of fear and anger in my soul leads to the harder questions of what my fear and anger are about and what will others might do with this part of me."

    I have several new friends in my temporary situation of living in another country. I determined not to try to have deep, personal, life long friendships develop here, it's too short, only 2 years (maybe 3) and the culture too different.

    But I can't help myself. Once someone lets me in just a little, I find I'm maneuvering to keep them liking me, to entice them to want to know me better and spend more time with me.

    I'm angry when I take a misstep and sense them pulling away. I'm fearful that I might have hurt their feelings or offended their cultural sensitivities.

    But really I think I'm fearful they will reject me, won't want me. I know that if I let them see who I really am, what I really think or believe it will be too much for them. I am too much.

    Even in my response to this post I find myself thinking "Don't write so much, don't make it all about me, compliment the post instead of writing my own thoughts, it's too much, too many words, too much of my story." (So I started writing more of my thoughts on my own blog instead of the comment section here, that's so like me.)

    "A state is something that we may feel or not, but is nonetheless part of our thinking, interactions and behavior."
    This distinction is good and so important to think about. We don't always 'feel' what is truly affecting us. I respond in a way that surprises me and then I realize...there is fear, there is anger.

    "A path toward a deeper understanding of our truest selves, no matter how dark, requiring a kind of faith we know little of."
    What is this kind of faith? Do I have it? Lord I believe but help my unbelief. What is the path for this faith to grow? Is that even a good question?

    "...we need a more profound healing than to simply live differently."
    Where, how, when, does this healing come? I re-read some of your other posts after this and I wonder if in confession, in face to face relationship, being seen,....we find the salve for healing to proceed.

    Thanks for writing such a good thought provoking post. I was just thinking about you and wondered what you were thinking about these days.

  • By: 0 on December 13th 11:29 PM

    Why do I so desperately feel the need to be "okay". I can't struggle with a question or struggle in an argument with my husband for more than a day or I feel I might lose myself.

    I felt very encouraged by this post to be okay with my struggles, not to try and fix them, but instead ask myself questions that get me deeper than what I'm comfortable with.

  • By: Mo on December 15th 9:16 AM

    For me,I believe it top be fear. Much like TJ's fear. Will I be found out for who I really am? Will nobody like me then? What if someone doesn't even like the person I show to the world? Who areeach of these women and what do their lines cross.... Blur... I'm not even sometimes in certain situations

  • By: Elena on March 6th 1:54 PM

    i have been to anger management beorfe and the key is stop and think beorfe you act..if you do that you will see what you are getting mad at and find it probably is not worth it..oh, and how to explain to the same christian the concept of live and let live (that is a toughie, even though jesus knew that one real well)



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