This guest article from PsychCentral was written by Linda Bloom, LCSW
Jesse, our first born, was three years old before I was willing to leave him for a vacation with my husband, Charlie. To say that I had been an obsessed, overprotective, neurotic, overwhelmed mother was… well, just about right. My parents, who lived over four hundred miles away, were the only other people with whom I would entrust my baby. I wasn’t totally wacko, but pretty close.
Our destination was Martha’s Vineyard. On our first night, we stayed in a bed-and-breakfast inn by the beach that had an antique claw-foot bathtub. I filled it with the hottest water we could stand, and we both got in. After relaxing for several minutes in the steaming heat, Charlie silently picked up a soft washcloth and began gently washing my face with a sweet-smelling soap. I suddenly found myself beginning to weep. I was the baby now, being nurtured by someone who dearly loved me. Ours had been a difficult transition into parenthood, with both of us working, earning graduate degrees, and having a baby who had been more demanding than I had expected him to be. I was bone tired. We knew that our honeymoon was over, and that we were much more overdue for some serious R & R than either of us realized.
Spending time together in a bathtub may seem like an ordinary experience, but it was a pivotal communion for Charlie and me, a sharing of deep understanding, appreciation, connection, and peace. Finally, in that bathtub, we cherished one another in a simple sharing of ordinary magic. I was crying for joy for having made it to that exquisite moment. There had been so many times in the past three years when I didn’t know whether our marriage would be an embodiment of my heart’s deepest longings or simply an arrangement designed to keep the family intact. In this moment, I knew that we had indeed triumphed, and were finally enjoying freedom from our struggle. It was blissful! Today, thirty-five years later, I still count that experience in the claw-foot tub among the most precious of my life.
The more of our own internal house cleaning we have done, the less time it takes to establish an openhearted connection with our partner. Taking care of business, however, generally requires more time and effort than we think it should. There’s a fine line between clearing upsets internally, and repressing them in denial and allowing resentments to fester and accumulate. We know that we have more work to do if we find ourselves trying to fix, blame, or fault the other person, rather than looking at what we can do to create a safer, more loving environment in our relationship. This of course is easier said than done, but possible, and worth the time and effort that it takes to do it. Keep Reading...
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