Pleasure or Pain?

My husband made a joke yesterday about my cranky demeanor this week. I didn’t think it was funny. Actually, it hurt my feelings. I’m not sure if you can tell based on my blogs, but this chick doesn’t do vulnerability. So what initially registered as hurt quickly turned into anger. I didn’t say anything at the time because my coach’s brain told me that they were just words, and I was the one making it mean something about me. But my wife brain was pissed! My mind went from “Love you, have a good day,” to “Bitch, I will cut you.” From one. Single. Sentence.

My thought work focused entirely on my reaction to that one sentence. I worked through all the things I was making it mean (my needs aren’t important, there’s something wrong with me) and the feelings associated with it (hurt, anger) and how these feelings made me show up in my marriage (distant, disconnected, and wait for it…..selfish). Obviously not what I wanted to create in my relationship based on a series of words strung together in an attempt at humor.

I knew I had a choice. I could stay pissed off, stew all day long, blame him, and perpetuate my misery (let’s be honest, our misery). Or I could cut the shit and choose a different way to view the entire scenario that would not only feel better but also serve my marriage (your welcome, husband).

So I decided to write a list of the reasons I believe Chris (the husband) is a better partner than I am because honestly, there are many times he is. What ensued was an interesting stream of thoughts and realizations (in no logical order, so just stay with me). My list started with how Chris is beyond patient with me and my OCD, do it my way, my way is the only way-ness. I’ve never met someone so dedicated to doing the work in relationship the way he is. He fights for me (and therefore us) harder than anyone ever has. He’s always super affectionate and loving to me (even when I resist it). At this point, my brain was like, “Whoa, wait. Why DO you resist his affection so much?” “Well, because then I feel like I’m giving in and he wins. Also, it makes me feel vulnerable, and I really hate feeling vulnerable”, I replied to my brain. And then my mind was like “Hey dummy when you feel connected with your husband; you win too. And affection feels good to YOU TOO. So you’re continuing to fight this, why?” It was at that moment I realized it’s because the discomfort of disconnect, distance, and emotional isolation feels more familiar and therefore EASIER than the joy/pleasure that comes from affection, connection, and love through intimacy. Because disconnect has become more natural for me, my brain told me it was safer, even though it causes me SUFFERING. I was literally choosing pain over pleasure because the pain was more familiar. Mind. Blown.

This is why we don’t apologize; blame instead of taking responsibility, and fight changing. Because our current state of discomfort is so familiar, we become blind to it. We stop even recognizing it as uncomfortable. Even when relief or pleasure is an available option, we continue to choose the discomfort that is familiar to us because it’s easier. This is why our friends in shitty relationships don’t leave. Shitty becomes their new normal, and leaving seems harder than staying.

How many times have you held a grudge against your partner for like a week, because you didn’t want to let it go? Even though making up would be so much easier and would require so much less energy than giving them the nonstop cold shoulder and perpetuating the tension. How many times have you blamed your boss for ruining your day? Only to walk around as Ms. Pissy Pants all damn day when you could have easily let that shit go and moved on. Because blame is easier than taking responsibility for your emotions.

In the same way, it’s “easier” for me to “protect myself” with emotional isolation and avoidance of vulnerability. Even though accepting the love, affection, and connection offered by my husband would be so much easier and for sure feels way better. As Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.” I intend to do better, especially when it actually feels better.


Ready to step away from easy and choose change? Then let’s do it! Schedule that 45 minute coaching consult, already!