Emotionally Feeling Crazy, my Wife is a Saint

Last June I had a sinus infection, no big deal they happen pretty regularly for me. Then a few weeks later I got stung or bit, by some ground hornets on the back of my head. I handled the situation as I would with any sting and cleaned the area.

A few days later while laying on our bed, my wife noticed a bump on the back of my head. I freaked out, thought the worst immediately.  A few days later, while speaking with my doctor he said he didn’t think it was anything to be concerned about and said that such bumps should go down in a fews days as we discussed this was related to the bee sting. I went to our chiropractor and he helped the bump go away. I started experiencing soreness and tightness a few months later around my neck, I went to an ENT who said that everything is alright and that this is a muscle issue and to talk with my PCP.

Mental Rollercoaster

I went back home somewhat relaxed and one day my wife and I had a conversation, she meant nothing by it and I looked her in the eyes, filled with fear, I ran upstairs. This was after she asked me about symptoms and whether when I looked down if i got dizzy or felt anything move, which I denied both. Tearful and obviously in fight or flight mode I was crying and said, “You think I’m dying?” My wife hugged and just let me cry. Later on she would tell me that she was not saying she felt I was dying and that often times she looks at me and tries to hide how crazy I sound. However, for a few days around Christmas, I was still experiencing symptoms of anxiety, waves of worry and tearfulness hit every few minutes.

I had a hard time seeing much of a future. It was not until my anxiety leveled out over a few days that I was able to calm down and see I was really going in a scary direction mentally. Long story short, imaging was scheduled by my PCP.

Control Your Controllable

Then my wife went on a business trip. This has been a blessing because it forced me to step up and manage my emotions, even when I was struggling emotionally. My wife told me an important idea, “Control your controllable.”

This idea is one I wrote about in my journal over several days, remembering what i can and cannot control. I could control journaling daily but I can’t control anything outside myself. I believe this is an idea we can all benefit from and apply to our lives.

Throughout the entire experience my wife has been right there with me and a solid rock. I write this because while my wife is a saint, it also took my willingness to open up with her along the entire process of fears I had. I’m able to be vulnerable with her.

Is your Partner a Saint?

In your relationship, whatever is going on are you feeling supported? Have you sought out support from your significant other? Is it safe to seek out support? Do you feel your partner would listen and ask questions with the intention to understand what you’ re experiencing? These are important questions to ask yourself if you have not sought out support for whatever is going on in your life.


Hostile Couples

Thinking back over my years in practice both community and private practice, I’d never put much thought into if most of the couples I’ve worked with were conflict avoidant or hostile. To be honest there has been a good mix of both. Luckily, I’ve known how to work with them and have been able to see some of the struggles. In this post, I will focus on hostile couples. If you are part of a relationship which is hostile even at times, there are a few things that likely stick with you. First, having important or deeper conversations are difficult because they tend to lead to fighting. Second, those in these relationships know how tops one another’s buttons and really upset one another. Third, members often spend a good amount of time thinking about how their partner has wronged them but not necessarily their role. The fourth and another important piece, you and your partner struggle with self-regulating/calming down in a healthy manner.

If any of this speaks to you, know you are not screwed and it is possible to turn your relationship around. Sadly, these and other relationships often end with an idea such as, “if this is supposed to work, why is it so hard?” I will answer this common question by attempting to draw a mental picture for you, the next time you are in your car, say you wanted to go straight forward but the car was stuck in reverse. The more you and your partner fight, the car is still going in reverse and no matter how badly wither of you want to go forward you cannot. I DO NOT recommend trying this as it is only an example. The next logical question would be, how do we switch from reverse to drive (or forward)? First, take your foot off the gas, put the break on.

There are several steps I won’t be breaking down in this post, but one of the most important tasks for a hostile couple is learning self-regulation and part of self-regulation is being mindful. Mindfulness for the purpose of this blog is being in the here and now. Be present. Often times wee get swept away by past learning and we continue to bring this learning into the present and it doesn’t help.

Once in the moment, self-regulation skills are needed to be implementing such as taking a few deep breaths and then recognizing you may need some time to relax and perhaps getting out of the present environment and one more appropriate for calming down for 15-20 minutes. Afterwards coming back together and working to repair the relationship. Some of this is likely ahead of where some reading this have been. I’d suggest therapy, the reason is because you can work with a trained therapist such as myself who can support you and your partner through the different steps to learn to calm down the hostility and afterwards, implement healthy skills to make it so you and your partner over time can learn to have important conversations and have the tools to not get upset with one another to the point nothing gets resolved.

I am also going to share, I’ve been in hostile relationships. When I was younger, I always felt it was the other person’s fault and I’d blame them. Some of the words used were terrible and hurtful. This isn’t about pity from anyone, it is me being accountable as I am asking you to be. These past relationships ended, in part because I was angry and unwilling to be accountable.

I’ve been blessed by being married to my wife who has accepted me for my flaws and our disagreements are a lot better than past relationships I’ve had and some of this is maturity, maybe all of it is, because I had to own up to my end. Working with hostile couples in the past, some partners would not own their parts, it was always a contingency on the other partner to change. This is crap.

When I work with a couple, hostile or not. A few expectations are in play. First, each partner identifies their own goals in session. Second, each partner is accountable for themselves. This means that if during an argument one partner says something that really hurt the other, that person does not get to say that their words were only said because the other partner did something that upset them. These are just two of the expectations that are not negotiable in therapy with me. Couples tend to get into a cycle of hurting one another and in therapy with me that is going to stop.

If this interests you feel free to contact me (PA /NJ residents) for a free consult via the “free consult” tab which is all over on my website or email Brian@themarriagedoc.com