You are not your partner! Yes, you may be the one for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health and till death do you part, but he still retains his individuality.
The notion at the beginning of it all and even before the commitment, is that you must be everything for your partner, including being the ultimate problem solver and soother of past and present pains.
As your relationship progresses you fast realize that pain is very much individually felt and experienced. You also realize your partner cannot solve your problems for you; especially the ones not involving them.
You both come with past experiences
At different times in the growth of a couple’s relationship, certain challenges arise, some current and some sparked by past deeds, hurts or circumstances. We all come from a childhood and young adult life having experienced pains unique to us.
You dealt with them in the best way you knew how at the time and often recollect the most poignant ones either from a place of overcoming and hence learning or from a place of a still tender wound because the pain never quite went away.
These past hurts or unforgotten experiences tend to be the ones carried into the current reality with life partners. Often there is a feeling that because of the love now found and intended to last a lifetime, you will become whole and your partner will make everything ok.
Until they don’t! This is when the realization dawns, the realization that he cannot be everything to you, and if you are not careful, you can begin to resent him for not being able to heal your hurts.
Instead, open up to the possibilities of confronting the pains individually, because both of you carry them separately. No one can carry your pain for you but you, no matter how clearly you explain what that pain is to the other person. This goes both ways.
The most emotionally self-aware people get to develop a healing muscle form an early age. They confront their hurts as they happen, revealing that part of themselves which is made raw by the experience, they look at it as if it were someone else’s.
If possible they pluck out the thorn, but most times have to medicate the metaphorical wound by self-reflection and/or confronting it till it is conquered. Then on to the next challenge and on and on through life’s journey.
But then a lot of us are not gifted with self-reflection and problem solving in general and so bottle up the most difficult experiences hoping time will naturally make the pain go away. Herein lies the problem.
More often than not, unresolved problems resurface periodically throughout our lives manifesting in different forms because whether we like it or not, life has a habit of making us re-sit the exams we failed in the past till we pass them. Then what happens? Life sets us new exams. It’s a never ending cycle.
Encourage him to feel
But at the core, the owner of the problem is the one who can solve it. Women especially face an internal struggle with this. We are taught to be the emotion bearer for our men, the counsellors and advisors; to bear the great relationship pains on behalf of the couple. We then feel like failures and wanting in our roles when we cannot help our men out of their problems.
But it’s not about you, it’s about him and the most you can do is help him to see that he needs to take his own time and space to acknowledge, sit in and heal from his pain. It is the case for our gender roles, the revelation that men are just as capable as women of being hurt and also of emotional collapse but that they are allowed to fall and rise up again.
I think the trick is as the partner, to give room, to give a non-judgmental space for him to go through it. You also release yourself from carrying burdens you were never meant to carry in the first place and just be there and be your best self.