What Baggage Did You Bring?

The past is the past, right? Well, why does it creep into our marriages?

Sometimes it is even disguised as something else.

When I was growing up, I observed my mother do everything for us. She worked, paid the bills, and provided for our every need. She raised us alone and didn’t really have to answer to anyone as to the way she did it. While coming up, I thought that a man/husband was just optional, not necessary. My mother made parenthood and running a household appear so easy.   I always thought it was something I wanted to do, too. My behavior reflected that thought. It took some time to acknowledge that I had actually brought those ideals, a.k.a baggage, into my relationship.

I could clearly see the burdens that others were carrying, but my stuff didn’t seem like baggage. My idea of baggage, in regards to others, was thinking that a man was going to hurt them the same way another man had. I often found myself advising friends on this very situation by requesting they give the new guy a chance and stop carrying the past with them into every new relationship.  To my surprise my baggage, which I kept tripping over, was right there. It took the patience and gentleness of my husband and an honest self-assessment to realize I had to ship that baggage out of our marriage.

Unfortunately, there are quite a few of us who still struggle to be happy with our spouses because of our own “stuff.”  That stuff has been given permission to take over. It is known for causing us not to trust, fully love or enjoy the moment. We are either fearing that what has happened to us in the past will ultimately happen again. Or we are exhibiting negative behaviors that we’ve learned in the past, like not communicating effectively or having certain expectations of our mate that just aren’t realistic.

In order to release the baggage, we must be completely honest with ourselves.   We can begin anytime by:

  • Admitting that we have the baggage.   As with any addiction or self-sabotaging behavior admitting it exists is always the first step.
  • Acknowledging and respecting why it is present and continuing to travel with us. Understanding where it originated will help start the release.
  • Recognizing what it has prevented us from having. Have we missed out on enjoying the marriage or having healthy conversations with our spouses?   If so, it is time for change.
  • Confessing that it isn’t working. If it bothers us that we’ve missed out on those certain moments, it makes sense to do something different.
  • Planning the change. Of course change doesn’t occur overnight, but being realistic about what needs to take place is the beginning of the plan. Creating small steps toward the bigger goal is a great place to start.

Whether we have been married 12 months or 12 years, the baggage has to go. It is never too late or too early to prepare a plan of release. Baggage gets heavy and causes damage, so whatever baggage there may be, it is always best to let it go.

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