Marriage & Humble Pie

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I have not experienced anything more humbling than marriage. Parenting comes in at a close second. Let me explain! Some believe that our partner is a mirror reflection of ourselves. Some say that opposites attract. I think it is a bit of both. Yet, it is those times when I have recognized myself in my husband that are my humbling moments. Why would this be a humbling moment? Well, because I recognize that I struggle with the same thing for which I have judged him! For example, both of us can be sensitive in ways that we don’t always like, and both of us can be defensive. They may look slightly different, which is why I don’t immediately recognize them, but when I do, well, “ouch”! I understand that it is unfair to judge him when in fact I struggle with the same challenge. It isn’t that I deny these challenges; it is just a blind spot! All of us have blind spots. It is one of the many reasons that I admire people whom I work with in therapy. They are open to learning about their blind spots. By the way, I like to use the word “challenges” when I refer to what we bring to a relationship. We tend to use words like “issues” or “flaws”; “challenges” is kinder, compassionate, and understanding.

I experience humbling moments anytime that I recognize challenges that contribute to our relationship! It doesn’t have to be connected to seeing myself in my husband. I find it helpful to keep a list to remind me. It helps me stay focused on my work that will make me a better person. It is not easy, though, to be self-aware in our close relationships. It is easier to focus on how someone has hurt us rather than focusing on how we hurt someone. As much as it can feel humbling when I recognize what I bring to my relationship, it can be liberating as well. Understanding our challenges gives us the freedom to own them and work on them. The more we understand ourselves with compassion, the more it can empower us to change and grow. There is only one person that we can change in a relationship, and that’s ourselves. It is liberating to focus on our personal growth.

However, when I have a humbling moment, the first emotion that I feel is shame. All of our emotions are felt in degrees; sometimes I’m at a one, and sometimes I’m above a five. The only way that I can move out of shame is to balance it with compassion. I know that we do not tend to think about being compassionate toward ourselves, but it is necessary.

I think what I find most challenging is sharing these humbling moments with my husband. It is hard to be vulnerable with our partner, and I don’t want to be the only one sharing my humbling moments. I prefer it to be a mutual exchange of vulnerability. However, one cannot demand a mutual exchange of vulnerability and shared humbling moments. I know that I would not respond well if my husband demanded this of me! I do know that being vulnerable can make for a better relationship. We have to trust that our partner will be gentle when we are vulnerable. Here’s the takeaway: Humble pie is good for you and your relationship!

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