Masking Yourself in Marriage
By: Javan
October 15, 2013

Last week I wrote about not being true to your motives and intentions with your loved ones. I gave a few examples of how this “being not your true self” shows up in your family and in your marriage. Today I’ll be going into this shadow version of ourselves a bit deeper and how we come to buy into this shadow version of ourselves.

When we grow up and learn about what is acceptable and not acceptable, we deny parts of ourselves. Yes, parts of the things we want as children are not good for us, so it’s good to learn what is illegal and what is immoral. But some things we learn mistakenly, as children, that parents did not intend; like feeling overly ashamed or unimportant or unloveable.

It’s these defining moments that a person becomes trapped in a process that has a great deal of meaning and value to them, but doesn’t work for them into adulthood in intimate relationships. Some examples are being over productive, overly concerned with physical appearance, feeling overly responsible for others, being self-sabotaging with alcoholism or other addictions, like social-addictions, workaholism, over achieving etc. Over and over again, couples talk at each other, basing their reactions in these types of experiences without even realizing they’re doing it.

Their spouse is at a loss as to what to do, because they are unable to meet the expectations. Expectations that are near and dear to their loved ones heart, but based in a childhood need. Which is not being shared or expressed because it’s beneath things like, “I do everything.” “You don’t help me.” “You are selfish!” “I am right!” You get the picture.

These accusations are the masked version of a person who truly believes the other person is less adequate, less competent, and less put together while the accuser is perfect. Somewhere the flawed child bought into the notion that they are really being great in the marriage even when they are not…..there is a reason this system is in place. The reason is to keep the childhood truth alive, so there has to be an actor in your play to live out your childhood truth.

What if they are wrong? Hmmmmmmm……that means a lot of what they believe would be incorrect and the universe just might get turned upside down. It goes like this…..”I can’t be wrong, because anyone who is wrong is bad, and I am not bad!” That is the flawed child’s perspective running around in the grown up world, managing their own shame and negative self-truth through others, who are flawed of course.

Many times, during a session, I check-in about this shame process to make sure I know when this little person, who feels judged, shows up in my clients. It’s quite common. That means it’s happening at home and elsewhere. The shadow self we use to protect our little ones (our younger version) from whatever we became anxious or afraid of is not based in confidence, but rather insecurity and fear. Being in “recovery” means shedding the old shadow self, making yourself conscious of him or her, and holding yourself responsible for your reactions and beliefs.