Why is it some people struggle to let go of the past? Are they bad partners are they being difficult? Do they want your life together to be miserable?
Of course not, but does their action spoil the couples connection?
On one hand, it does, but if someone is holding on to the past, the connection for that person is already spoilt which is why they keep the past alive and keep bringing it up.
If you look for the positive intent, they are bringing up the past because they are fed up with feeling connected to it and so they hope it might help, in most cases, both people usually end up feeling worse because they don’t know what to do.
To be crystal clear shutting the person down leaving them alone to suffer from this feeling is also not the answer as it can lead them to destructive outcomes for the marriage.
Some people will live with constant worry, expecting another bad thing will happen.
Some people are generally not thinking about bad past events until there is a conflict and the – what about what you did – conversation brings up every wrong yet again.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a memory or a problem from six months ago, or sixty years ago, people can be motivated to keep bringing up past problems.
The reason they do this is :-
One reason is the problem for them is unresolved, the problem may have physically gone away, but the problem is still alive in that person for some reason.
Other people use the past as a defense or as a weapon to rebalance an argument and they go round in circles.
Others holding onto the past and are fearful about the future. They are concerned the past problems will appear in their future.
Some can go into deep anxiety losing all connection with themselves making any connection very difficult, these people will feel very stuck.
I remember one couple in their 50’s came in for help.
When I asked for a summary of their challenge the lady instantly pointed out her husband had an affair a year after they were married.
Th husband in disbelief said that was 25 years ago!
I had to point out to him that for her emotional system it’s like it happened recently because for her the problem has not been properly resolved.
She hasn’t brought it up with you, but it’s still alive in her. She probably didn’t say anything after a while because of your reaction, head down he nodded.
Would you both be happier without this focus in your lives? Yes of course, but she can’t just forget it, it’s a process and you and I need to support her so she doesn’t need to hold onto this anymore.
Women do tend to hold on to past events more than men, but I have met many men who suffer from this too.
I see many couples who once they have understood their problems and have responded to them as a team can look back at the problems as the time that woke their relationship up and put them back on track.
Understanding their problems saved their family.
So people can roll their eyes as their partner brings up the same old problems, yet again!
Or they can find out why it’s happening and discover what you can do on your own or together to recreate a new healthy connection.