Love and Politics
Love and politics – what to do…
Ever wake up from a dream and want to go back to sleep because the world you’re living in feels like a nightmare?
That’s what many are experiencing as they watch the news or social media with horrifying acts one after the other unraveling at a lightning pace.
The degree to which this or any kind of stress gets under our skin and into our souls is different for everyone. It’s often different between marital partners.
What we do with distress is also very different.
The best thing we can first to do with distress is to be aware of it, to understand you are having a certain reaction to the events occurring around you, and to allow your feelings to be. Experience them.
You could be experiencing a range of emotions.
Deep sadness, rage, a pit in your stomach, or a disconnect. Helplessness. Maybe hope.
Fear is a difficult one to sit with.
It’s one side of the same coin shared by anger.
We feel angry when our boundaries are crossed, when our rights or those of others we care about have been violated. You can see how this can be tied up with fear as well, when we feel like we are powerless over forces in the world that feel much larger.
Here’s the thing though:
Most of you reading this did not grow up in a time when “Inside Out” was the movie of the day and you learned about your emotions.
You grew up as a boy being told not to cry and as a girl being told others and their feelings were more important than yours. As an aside, if you did not identify as a girl or a boy despite looking like one, you did not know where you belonged at all and were even more confused about everything.
As a result, you may be frighteningly out of touch with your emotions. Just look at the world around you.
I’m no hero. I work with emotions for a living and found myself out of touch and cranky recently.
It’s hard for me to trust everything is working out for the best even though a part of me believes it has to be, hoping that what we’re seeing around us is just the crap rising to the surface to clear out and yield something much better for all of us. I just hope we’ll be around to see it. It’s hard to believe that, maybe even foolish. So I can go into this gloomy place that is unlike my cheery self and lash out at the people closest to me if I’m not being mindful.
Now more than ever – or in times of distress globally or personally – is a time when we need to be connected to our feelings, as our feelings are what connect us to each other.
We are at risk of lashing out at each other, subconsciously testing the limits of the things we are most certain about in a time of great uncertainty.
Our reactions to our own negative feelings, if unchecked, can insidiously sever our connections to others and to ourselves. Our humanity. Things we need in spades right now.
So what about your marriage?
This boiling distress across the 50 states of America and beyond can eat away at you. Even if you believe you share a common enemy with your partner, it can make you turn on each other.
In addition to understanding your experience in times of fear or stress, know what your moves are, in other words, know yourself enough to understand how you typically react to distress.
Here are two ways you may react – which style is yours?
When faced with unpleasant emotions, many have the tendency to either become absolutely flooded by them and overwhelmed. You can’t keep your mind, which is going a mile a minute, off the worst possible outcome (then you see the news and realize that it’s already happened, further perpetuating your fear and anxiety).
Others completely shut down. Turn away, numb out, have an extra drink, don’t quite seem to care. In reality, you may also be overwhelmed, but the best way you know to handle this feeling is to shut down because you may feel helpless and like you have no other options.
Partners often come together with polarizing styles.
She’s on the street protesting and he’s just watching football seemingly unperturbed to her.
An hour doesn’t go by without her posting an article on social media and he doesn’t even have a Facebook account.
She feels he doesn’t care and he feels she’s a bit too much. He feels he can’t make a difference, anyway. Further, he believes he’ll never live up to her unrelenting standards of political activism, anyway.
She’s disturbed by his nonchalance because of her own difficulty with the world right now, her own uncertainty and her own questioning of whether she can make a difference. She feels alone in her relationship as a result of this difference in their way of dealing with things and feels the burden of a nation, or even the globe itself, on her shoulders alone.
They don’t talk about it.
But it eats away at them.
My message to this couple and to you if you’re experiencing anything like this:
Recognize your anguish, however obvious or subtle it may be. It only makes sense right now for you to experience it.
Don’t let your distress about the current uncertainty in the world take over your relationship.
Accept each other’s styles of dealing with your emotional experience.
Recognize that everything you are both doing makes perfect emotional sense from each of your levels of consciousness.
Do what you need to do, and respect your partner for what they are doing.
Careful not to project your distress onto them or your relationship when that’s not what it’s about.
Take a step back if you need to.
Talk about what’s going on with each of you as you weather this storm together, and hang onto each other.
P.S. Understand how to create and enjoy your best love at a deeper level by grabbing a free chapter from my book, Your Best Love: The Couples’ Workbook And Guide To Their Best Relationship, by entering your info below: