Dealing With Marital Baggage

AUTHOR: | POSTED: January 27, 2011 | COMMENTS: None Yet - Post a Comment
CATEGORIES: Love & Marriage, Tags: , , ,

Carolyn Savage

The speech is coming along, but I do have to say that Sean hit the nail on the head when he said 18 years of marriage brings with it 18 years of baggage.  The baggage is everywhere in our home.  It’s in our bathroom first thing in the morning when I go to use my shampoo and somebody has left the cap off again (which leaves me to wash my hair with the equivalent of soapy water).  It’s in our garage when I trip over someone’s size 10 running shoes while trying to carry MK to her car seat.  It’s even in the driveway when I maneuver around our empty trash cans that are waiting to be dragged back to the house three days after the garbage was picked up.  I guess it’s easy to see the “baggage” that others leave around my life because it pops up everywhere annoying and frustrating me several times a day.

The interesting thing about “baggage” is, I’ve been told, I have some too.  Funny …mine is harder for me to see.  Apparently, it’s on our toothpaste as I’m not real neat about rolling the tube, or putting the cap back on after I use it.  I’ve seen glimpses of my baggage in my check book considering I don’t fill out a ledger which sometimes causes me to occasionally  “lose track” of how much money I have ( or don’t have) in the bank.  I admit I can actually see the baggage in my car because I could probably feed a small third world country a plentiful menu of flat diet cokes and old crusty French fries right out of my backseat.  I can only imagine how much my baggage annoys and frustrates the other members of my family.  My guess is, quite a bit.

I have big “bags” that I try to conceal, but seem to come out of their hiding places during conflict.  They manifest themselves into moments of extreme defensiveness and anger that pours out of me in a very passive aggressive manner.  I’m not a yeller, but I can quietly cut someone with my seemingly calm but harsh words.  And my tone and facial expressions are also a problem when it comes to conflict resolution (Sean says it’s hard to take my apology seriously when I’m rolling my eyes while saying “I’m sorry”!).  To make matters worse,  I’m a “word carrier.”  Words stick to me and even though I know it would be better if I could just let them fall away, I can’t.  I have a sharp memory which has been a good thing for me in a lot of ways, but hasn’t served me well when it comes to the notion of forgiving and forgetting.  (I can tackle the forgiveness.  It’s the forgetting that trips me up!)

This morning, I received a message from a friend that thanked us for our blog.  She shared that she and her husband were having a tough time lately and reading about the antics in our marriage reassured her that everyone has issues brought on by the “baggage” in our relationships.  She remarked that she would have never guessed that Sean and I had rough marital moments.  She figured we had it “all together.”  The idea that people think Sean and I have some sort of “perfect” marriage shocked me.  We bicker, disagree and react impatiently with one another more often than I care to admit.  How in the world could someone think that we lived every moment in shear marital bliss? But, then again, how would anyone know we don’t?  After all, we hide our baggage well.   I post cute pictures on Facebook and send pretty Christmas cards full of snapshots that I am proud to share.

The message from our reader got me to thinking.  How can Sean and I go so quickly from laughing together to pushing one another’s buttons?  I have no doubt it’s because of the baggage that each of us brings to our relationship.  But if there is so much challenge, how is it that we love each other so much?  I guess it’s because of our 20+ years of history.  For every unfortunate moment that we’ve had with one another, there are numerous happy, satisfying times that make me love my life with him.    The good outweighs the bad.  The love allows me to kick the baggage aside.

For right now, I’m trying to focus less on his baggage (which is hard to do when I’m running over the garbage cans or washing my hair with watered down shampoo) and trying to work on my own.  No doubt, it’s easier said than done.  I guess it’s a work in progress!

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