Removing the bricks from your relationship wall

Relationship | Aug. 07, 2017

In relationships, we often build walls between us and the ones we love. Those walls are made from solitary bricks representing the hurtful moments, the ones that create doubt, the ones that sting, the ones that say, "I don't believe in you" or "I don't love you." They are usually hurled during one of those nasty, heated arguments flooded with all sorts of emotion. And the worst ones are the ones that feel like they came from out of nowhere, making you question the foundation of your relationship and wonder what EXACTLY your partner thinks about you.

One thing is for certain. They can't be unsaid or unheard. Those hurtful bricks float in the air once they are hurled, like bubbles waiting to pop, slowly descending until they find their place in the wall. And it we're not careful, the wall will get taller and deeper. Times fills the cracks like mortar. Eventually, you can't see over it, crawl over it, walk around it and you are lost to each other. In any good relationship, you have to work purposefully at removing the bricks from the wall. I find that when something is so hurtful, I carry it with me and it's present in whatever discussion is at hand. So, here's what I do to lesson my load: I cut up cardboard "bricks" -- actual pieces of cardboard -- and whenever I feel like I'm "carrying around" a new brick in my head & heart, I write that feeling/thought down on the brick. This allows me to temporarily let it go and get back to it when I'm not feeling as emotional. These bricks are tangible reminders of the work I need to do.

I can look at the pile and it can spur me to not let things wait too long, build the wall. If I revisit the bricks during a time when I'm calm and coming from a place of love, I find that I am more successful at chiseling them away or removing them altogether. When I do pick a brick back up and open the discussion, I present it to my partner and explain what I heard. Then, I ask if that's what was intended. Oftentimes, what I heard wasn't what was intended, even if the words that were used seem to have no other meaning. Even if they were intended, this is the chance to deal with them and not let the wall be built unintentionally. Here's the thing: I ONLY use the bricks when something was said that I feel has long lasting, detrimental effects to my relationship.

The brick serves as a signal to my partner of how important the topic is to me. If it effects my ability to trust or to feel vulnerable or my ability to show up in a healthy way, then I write it on a brick. Do you know what the bricks are in your wall? How will you take a step towards identifying them and breaking down the wall?

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