Over the years, I have seen countless women both professionally and personally who, without being aware, slip into an insecure, child-like place in their marriage. They lack self-confidence and find it difficult to be themselves. This can happen to any woman for many different reasons. Hence, I have seen many wives who, because they have never worked through their own childhood insecurities, unconsciously displace childhood feelings into their marriage.
Ladies, let me tell you right now that this is a dangerous and unsafe place for any of you to be in. Think about it: would any person in a marriage be safe if a child was the one making all sorts of emotional decisions? The answer is simple: It would be a disaster beyond comprehension.
So, if you're one of those women who feels like an adult in every other place in her life (ie: work place, parenting, friends, etc.) but not in her marriage, then here are five steps to help you find and hold onto the adult (you) in your marriage:
1. Name what your current fear-based feelings are in your marriage. Do you feel fear when your husband makes a critical remark towards you? Do you feel flooded with anger when your husband walks away from you in the middle of a conversation?
2. Connect the fear-based feeling to your past. Is your fear-based reaction to your husband's critical voice reminiscent of your father criticizing your behavior at eight years old? Is the anger you feel when your husband walks away from you in mid-sentence a jarring reminder of your mother walking away from you at age six while you were in tears out of sheer frustration?
3. Send it back to where it belongs — out of your marriage. Once you are able to connect the dots, take a moment alone to visualize yourself boxing that feeling and sending it away back into your past where it belongs. Close the door to that past memory, throw away the key and walk away.
4. Visualize examples of where/when you feel confident today. Think of moments in the present where you feel like a confident adult who trusts herself with the highest esteem: with close friends, at the work place, as a parent with your children, etc. Get very specific with the example you choose and literally visualize how confident you feel in that space.
5. Place the visual into the present. Own it. With your new visual, place it now in the present: in your marriage. Embody that confident adult no matter what comes your way in your relationship.
Obviously, sharing these five steps with you is pretty simple; executing them is the challenge. However, with time, practice and trust in your abilities, I know that you can achieve all five steps if you are willing to push through the process. In time, the feelings of your past will become less frequent and how you react in your marriage will no longer be weighed down by your anxiety from the past.