This guest article from YourTango was written by Tom King.
I had been working with a couple on the concept of making amends and offering one another sincere apologies for ways in which they have hurt one another. He stated truthfully that he was not ready to offer an apology that was genuine because he still was not getting what he wanted and needed in this marriage.
After further discussion, both people were able to see they have some deep roots of resentment and bitterness towards one another that they were not willing and able to release yet.
A question emerged: “If I have decent and respectful relationships with other people in my life but not in my marriage, isn’t it fair to conclude that this is just a toxic relationship?”
That may be a fair conclusion in some cases, but there is a seductive illusion that the problem really is the other person. It ignores the fact that marriage is a unique relationship that demands more from you than other relationships and it is not a fair comparison. It also ignores the fact that what you blame your partner for is often just a reflection of something within yourself that you need to deal with. You may choose to leave what feels like a toxic relationship but if you have not released the roots of bitterness you will carry that with you into the next one.
We began talking about a garden. If you have an ugly weed in your garden, you typically try to get rid of it by pulling it out. If the soil is dry and hardened however, it will not release the root and the weed just keeps growing back. You may try to poison the weed but if it is entwined with the plant, you run the risk of killing the plant as well.
The only safe and sure-fire way to get such a weed out is by soaking the soil with water until it is soft and loose enough for the soil to release the root. If it is a deep root, it takes a lot of water to penetrate deep enough.
When there are weeds of resentment and bitterness in a relationship, the partners tend to see only the weeds in the other and focus on trying to pull them out or poison them. You know the results of such behaviors. So the question is, how does one prepare the soil in one’s relationship garden so the soil will be willing to release the roots of bitterness? The answer lies in three key steps:
- First, you must look inward to see and acknowledge your own bitterness and resentments.
- Next, make the choice to work your way towards willingness to release the roots of these weeds.
- Lastly, water the soil of your relationship with kindness and loving behaviors aimed both at yourself and at your partner.
If the soil has been hardened over time, it will not respond by soaking in the water immediately. It takes time to penetrate the hard crust of dry soil. If the roots are deep, once the water penetrates the top soil, you must keep it coming for it to reach down to the depths of the roots. Consistent kindness and loving behavior over time will work its magic.
More great content from YourTango:
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