“Problem Partners” Uncovering the mask

Many couples struggle when one person starts to develop a personal problem of some kind. They struggle because the relationship cannot grow because of their problem and in many cases, it’s been dying for years because of this problem.

In today’s post, I’m going to talk about some of those problems I see and what could be going on for them and their marriage.

Last year I saw a lady who was depressed. After spending time with her I discovered her depression was designed to mask a deeper challenge for her.

She was afraid to open up in a relationship and so remained closed as a means to protect herself using depression (something she could create) as the problem everyone could see and focus on.

By helping her understand how the depression was created and how to be safe in a relationship she now has her life back.

A gentleman came reluctantly came to see me with his wife. She had had an affair and he wanted out. 

As his wife came to terms with his decision, a private conversation with him uncovered his withdrawal from the relationship (another personal problem) was designed because he was afraid she would do it again.

The withdrawal was designed to protect him – but this protection process was going to help him lose his wife the woman he loved so he was stuck.

Once he understood that her affair was due to their destructive dynamic he learnt how to be a massively valuable partner to her, this helped him find a safer path back to her.

Many people use withdrawal as a way to protect themselves. Some do it for years and suffer greatly as a result. Understanding the true reason for their withdrawal is key to stop people suffering through their challenges.

Addictions: These are personal problems designed to protect the person. I see many forms of addictions formed in relationships such as drink and drugs.

One lady was using food.

Even in the session with her husband where she was clearly stressed, she consumed two foot long baguettes.

She was severely overweight and had developed medical challenges. She had created a pattern that overeating to the point of needing medical attention was safer for her than dealing with a deeper pain that sat in her that she was unlovable.

This was designed within her as a child she was severely criticised as a child by her mother – a love that should have been safe. So If you can’t trust your mother who can you trust, so she used food as a comfort to protect her from that historic and deep pain.

So I treated this as a couple problem where both people could first learn how to emotionally connect as a foundation to the love they both desired. This gave them a team based foundation to get healthy together.

Blame is another challenge a person creates to mask a far deeper problem.

One gentleman blamed his wife for their marriage problems. It was easier to blame her because that took the focus and responsibility of their problems away from him. To him, he was a good guy, worked hard didn’t need much so she should be happy.

She was clearly not perfect, who is…

…but for him being right was really important. I knew that being right was masking his own insecurities that she didn’t love him.

The problem was he was in control of the wrong thing. Being in control of blame always meant he was actually out of control of his life as his blame simply shut his wife down emotionally so she couldn’t love him.

By helping him safely take responsibility of his own behaviours and learn how to provide her what she really needed he was not only able to deal with his own deeper challenges he is now a far more effective husband.

Relationship problems can have very deep and painful roots that many people are too afraid to face and many people are consciously unaware of what they are doing to protect themselves. 

So they create these problems to protect them from connecting to their deeper pain.

E.G. I would rather have depression than know I’m not enough for you.

There are many other types of problems such as people who go round in circles with decisions, or who talk a lot but do very little.

The skill in helping these people/couples is not to become seduced by the symptom because dealing with the symptom will only create another problem.

The objective is to free these people from self-inflicted prisons so they can safely live full lives. It’s also key to note that children do watch and learn destructive patterns so remember if you have fears they can learn them from you and develop similar patterns.

If this has struck a chord please get in touch.

About Stephen Hedger

International relationship expert Stephen Hedger's philosophy on relationship problems is this: Couples fail to understand their relationships because they are too focused on their problems and so they totally miss what created them. Stephen's approach is a refreshing and enlightening journey that helps couples uncover their truth. His strategies uncover the knowledge that all couples need to create a successful and lasting passionate connection. If you are in crisis and you need help, book an initial consultation today to get your life back on track.