The first year of my marriage was a boot camp for learning how to encourage, support, and fight with the love of my life. Some of our fights would surface because she didn’t know how to squeeze the toothpaste correctly or put the toilet paper right side up. Joking aside, some of our fights were deeply rooted in the fact that we have come together with two totally different upbringings. We each bring different types of baggage in a relationship.
I had to realize early that most of the arguments in our marriage originated from the baggage we each bring to the table. Much of our baggage comes from how we were raised in our families of origin. Here are 3 pieces of baggage your wife might’ve brought into your marriage.
1. Received Baggage
The traditions and rhythms that your wife brings to your marriage are often things she received from her parents. If your wife grew up with frugal parents, she is likely to handle money in the same way. When you bring up getting a new TV or upgrading your car and she gets frustrated, it is probably not a personal attack. With received baggage, her actions are connected to what she knows and has been taught. Do your best to affirm her feelings and find common ground if there is conflict.
2. Reactive BaggageIn conflict, you must slow down, acknowledge it, and recognize there is more going on in the situation.
Something embedded in your wife might cause unhealthy reactions, like something her parents did or didn’t do. Maybe her parents never took vacations growing up and now vacations are a must-do summer activity for her. When vacations are canceled for finances or other reasons, her reaction reveals the real wound. In conflict, you must slow down, acknowledge it, and recognize there is more going on in the situation.
3. Recalled Baggage
In the middle of tension, we all have tendencies to respond to the present situation with past wounds. When your wife is triggered by certain incidents, she is probably recalling old traumas and pain. In recalling these things from her past, her response is coming from what she knows or has seen. Do your best to investigate the source of her response without attacking her. The more you understand her recalled baggage, the more effectively you can communicate together.
Sound off: What are other types of baggage in a relationship and how can somebody best deal with them?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think is the biggest event of your life so far?”