18th May, 2012
Emotions make humans dynamic in every sense of the word. Even some animals have been discovered to express some level of emotional outflow: anger, happiness, satisfaction, appreciation, hate, etc.
Emotional state tends to form a base on which life is built. People who easily get angered would have either been deeply hurt in childhood or brought up by persons who erupted as volcanoes at the slightest provocation.
Sincerely speaking, no one has had a perfect life in upbringing, marriage, job, etc. We all seem to have experienced bout of hurts, disappointment, unmet expectations, anger, rejection, failure and a host of others. Carrying all these negative emotions through life can have an overwhelming effect on happiness, fulfilment and relationships.
Hansen was just a little boy of five when circumstances of their home forced his parents apart. His father fled with him and finally settled with another woman who took up Hansen as her stepson. The hardship he went through in his new home made him develop so much hatred for women. “Do this, do that, why haven’t you done what I asked by now? Have you completed your house chores? Those were familiar expressions I got from my step mum daily. Our relationship was that of giving and receiving instructions. I cannot remember when we ever had a relaxed atmosphere at home not to mention having a treat with the rest of the family. My father was not so much difficult to cope with but his hands were tied when it came to defining how I should be treated by his wife. I knew very well he loved me as his first and only son but the fear of getting into trouble with his wife overshadowed my interest. Could it be he was trying to convince her he was not the cause of problems between my biological mum and him; he gave in so much to please his wife that sometimes I’ll be tempted to think if his mind was taken off him but poor boy, what could I possibly do?” When Hansen got married, his wife was not told the whole story about his childhood: she only knew his parents separated and Hansen had to go with his dad. Each time she tried to tell her husband to help, she got a thundering ‘NO’ and he’ll eventually walk out on her. He had no time for home matters but would get really upset if things were not done the proper way and on time. She suffered this for long and was secretly planning to quit the relationship but when she hinted her friend, they got introduced to a counsellor who was able to walk through their problem with them and got Hansen to finally open up to his wife about the deep hurt nursed from childhood which translated to hostility to the women folk.
On the other hand, Margaret, a thirty-four-year old mum still struggles with perfectionist issue. She grew up in a home where things were classified as either acceptable or bad —there were no middle points. Her parents’ expectations were so high it took only an angel to get a pass mark from them. No matter how she tried, her mum and dad would always find something to criticise. She recounts: “My wedding day was my happiest as I imagined I was finally leaving the custody of my demanding parents. People thought I was glad to have met a handsome young man who wanted to spend the rest of his life with me but I knew it was something more than that.
When I remembered I was going to be the woman in charge; come up with ideas and actually implement them, I couldn’t help looking forward to it. After the wedding I found myself trying hard to please my husband just to gain his approval –this was what I’ve been used to all my life; you needed to do something really good to escape a ‘bite’ and when you knew you had put in so much effort to succeed or produce result, it would suddenly be taken for granted that you were simply meeting expectations –what a terrible life?
Unknown to me, I dropped my desire for freedom and comfort and plunged into the bottomless pit of ‘man pleasing’. The more I worked hard both in my career and family life, the more my husband felt that was my nature and failed to appreciate me. Something kept driving me to work harder probably he’ll acknowledge some day but it never happened. The result obviously was disappointment, resentment and regret. I openly told him he was ungrateful and did not deserve my love.”
Examples of people being emotionally damaged abound and the result is simply having a bunch of bitter, ungrateful, unlovable, grumpy, difficult, wounded, aggressive, revengeful, resentful beings surrounding us.
Apart from people who were exposed to emotional downside when they were young, couples or people in mature relationships have also experienced traumatic emotional times. In marriage for instance, there are expectations and desires to be met and when they are ignored or unexplored there could be some kind of let down. Some people feel particularly bad if they have been open and loving but their spouse pays back with a ‘bad coin’.
Investing so much in a relationship but getting very little could be painful and emotionally destructive. We expect our spouses to live up to reciprocate our love or at least appreciate the sacrifices we make.
Some couples have also experienced emotional setback because their need for intimacy is not met. Desiring to be close to your loved one is only natural and should be expected in the context of marriage. Needless to say is the point that people find marriage highly uncomfortable when its benefits are a mirage.
Whatever your experience, learning to handle emotional damage in relationships begins with your decision to find a better level of happiness; looking into both your contribution to the problems and a positive way to achieve success. Our next discuss will focus on how to cope with the pressure of emotional pains and how you can consciously position yourself to enjoy the company of others.