Stuffing It Down: Avoidance Almost 20 years of marriage has taught Samantha and me that we are both stuffers. We both hate conflict for different reasons and are avoiders. I hate conflict because I really just want life to be free flowing and I have enough stress to manage in life with bills, kids and responsibilities. Samantha hates conflict because it isn’t her forte, and stirs within her feelings of insecurity. I’m quite sure the beginning stages of my moral failure was directly due to Samantha and I stuffing down our needs, desires and overall feelings in marriage and in life. Samantha and I were each facing our own issues and inadequacies, and we both were busy making a living and raising a family. From hurt feelings, misunderstandings, judgments and unmet expectations, marriage is a hot bed for conflict avoidance. We just wanted to be happy. That “happiness” however came with a price: we gave up open and honest dialogue where we could both felt validated and understood. We didn’t have the type of communication where neither of us had to retreat to our own corner of shame, where we could simply hear what the other was saying, and where we didn’t try to fix it, but took it all in and affirmed one another with unconditional love. We avoided processing and talking and stuffed it down, only to see both of us fall prey to the pressure building up within. I’m convinced the stuffing and avoiding of issues slowly but surely turns to bitterness and resentment. This is a cancer that eats away not only at our spouse, but at our own selves and our opinions of our spouse. It taints our ability to see things objectively and causes us to deceive ourselves about truth, empathy and pride in our marriage. The outcome is a potential sea of self-deception which can lead to infidelity and a desire to get our needs met somewhere, anywhere. It can also lead the betrayed spouse to feel more than justified in their bitterness, unforgiveness and desire to punish their spouse. It’s a no-win situation for both parties. The answer is an open and honest, guided dialogue which can help foster forgiveness, clarity and restoration between both spouses. Without this controlled dialogue within the containment of experts who can help you navigate the road of restoration, the whole system breaks down and couples usually get nowhere. It’s not uncommon to see couples experience exhaustion and give up on the marriage not because of the infidelity itself, but the collateral damage due to never being able to gain ground, establish new momentum or ultimately find hope that redemptive and purposeful communication can be accomplished. The infidelity is long gone in the rearview mirror, yet the present anger and hurt and frustration foster tangible hopelessness. While normal, the cycle of failure and frustration can be broken my friends, it really can. For ideas on breaking the cycle feel free to email me at email@example.com or leave a comment here.