Are you a Stuffer? When something bad or unpleasant happens, do you dismiss it, minimize it, or just quit talking about it? Maybe you try to talk about it, but, when met with resistance from your partner, you just give up? Or, do you just avoid bringing up things that bother you altogether to avoid conflict? Maybe you put the blame on yourself, rationalizing away your irritation at whatever happened? Do you often ‘grin and bear it’? Do you do a lot of complaining in your mind, or to your friends, but not voice those complaints to the offending party? If you can relate to any of these things, you are likely a Stuffer!
Stuffers are people who find it much easier to ignore their feelings about something than to put it out there and have conflict about it. They are not confident enough in their feelings to hold onto their argument in the face of questioning. They cannot stay in touch with their anger long enough to stick up for themselves and tell someone when they feel hurt.
Decades of this cycle equips Stuffers with a highly effective, state-of-the-art trash compactor that just pushes down the problem, smoothes it over, and allows them to go on for a little longer. And while this method has a wonderful short term result (no conflict), the long term result is suffering!
Spewing: Years of stuffing leads to ‘spewing’. When mounds of accumulated grievances finally breach the surface, all the Stuffer can do is spew about all their partner’s wrongdoings. They’ve collected a vast array of vivid adjectives, and detailed stories to describe their partner’s misdeeds – and they can’t stop themselves from telling anyone who will listen. Their ‘compactor’ is overflowing and stinks to high heaven. It will hold no more and is leaking hazardous waste.
Blaming: The Stuffer has held onto their anger at their partner for so long that they are convinced their partner is the problem. Whenever their partner makes a tiny misstep, everything they’ve ever done wrong comes boiling to the surface and gets added to their current misdeed. The partner is caught in the crosshairs and feels they can do nothing right. It’s going to take a LOT of work to make the partner look good in the Stuffer’s eyes when they are looking through years of stinky garbage!
Depression: Another way of coping with the mounting garbage is depression. The Stuffer gives up. They feel like they will never be heard and they just accept defeat. They take Anti-Depressants to allow themselves to take on more and more garbage. They feel trapped and can’t see a way out. All of the energy it takes to keep this stuff down takes a toll on the body physically – migraines, acid reflux, depression, anxiety, irritability, teeth grinding, etc. They often find an unhealthy way to get their needs met – an affair; living separate, disconnected lives in a loveless/sexless marriage; addiction to food, alcohol, drugs, computer games, hobbies, spending money, etc.; or just living a sad, miserable life.
Leaving: Stuffers often get fed up and just leave their partner. I once heard of a guy who came home to find his wife of 20+ years had just moved out. He did not see it coming at all. Stuffers may feel like they’ve been screaming at the top of their lungs forever and can’t understand why their spouse can’t hear them. They get heard when they leave, but what good does it do then? The partner has learned their need to hear, but the Stuffer hasn’t learned to use their voice!
Hardened Heart: The saddest result I see is when the Stuffer develops a hardened heart towards their mate. So much muck and gunk has piled up over the years that it has crowded out the feelings of love that once occupied their hearts. Contempt has taken up residence in its place and refuses to leave. In these cases, I worry if we’ll ever be able to get those feelings of love back.
If you are a Stuffer, you need to understand how very unhealthy this behavior is! It may offer you temporary peace, but the cost over time is a lot of anguish and suffering. If you have children, they are watching you and learning this behavior. They will suffer, too. Do you really want them to learn to ‘endure more’? Or do you want them to learn to speak up for themselves and get what they need in this world? You have a duty to yourself, your relationship, and your children to speak your mind and be heard. If your partner can’t hear it, then get a good counselor to help you learn how to get your voice heard.
If you are the partner of a Stuffer – Look Out! This is not going to end well if the garbage keeps mounting. Your job is to make it safe for your mate to share his or her feelings. If they’ve been stuffed for a long time, it is going to be messy. Be patient and endure the discomfort. You’ve enjoyed a lot of years with few complaints; it will be rather unpleasant as your mate is catching up. But if you want a good, long lasting marriage, you’ll brave the task.
Taking the trash out regularly is important to maintain a clean and healthy marriage. Free yourself of unwanted garbage. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity, stop stuffing and start talking today!