Emotional Gridlock

 

Hahahaha!  I laughed out loud when reading chapter 4 of Schnarch’s Passionate Marriage.  He spends a lot of time setting up the interplay of other-validation v self-validation, self-presentation v self-disclosure and fusion v differentiation.  Basically, Schnarch describes a process that begins during courtship when we are poorly differentiated and seek emotional fusion.  We then seek validation from others (our date/perspective partner) and get all fused up.  Once we get emotionally fused we discover that many things we might otherwise do, say or feel make our partners anxious which makes us anxious.  And often when we seek validation it sometimes forces the other person into saying what you want to hear instead of how they truly feel thus creating this sense of self-betrayal.  So we end up presenting something from almost the outset that violates our own integrity instead of real disclosure.  Sometimes we disclose in the hope that the other person will validate us in addition to disclosing something about themselves.  Often, neither happens which frustrates us.  The icing on the cake is when our past disclosures become ammunition during heated fights!  We become walking wounded, and pretty soon a stony, icy silence sets in.  Total emotional gridlock.

 

This, according to Scnarch, is the perfect and most fertile place for true intimacy to blossom!  Hahahaha!

 

No, I’m not kidding.  Emotional gridlock happens when we run out of accommodations, we are tired of the mask, and we refuse to violate our integrity anymore.  Basically we have run out of patience and tricks and now must choose to confront ourselves because we are not making any headway with changing our partner.  Ain’t that a hoot?!?  According to Schnarch, I’m on the verge of some real electric sex, here!

 

In this section of the book, Schnarch just doesn’t confront contemporary psychology and marital counseling; he stands it on its head.  It’s not a problem of communication as emotional gridlock can only happen when the communication is really happening.  Otherwise one partner would still be blathering on and trying to attack the stone wall.  But when both partners know the score (I’m not changing and I’m sick of trying to change you!) and silence ensues progress can be made.  It looks like “falling out of love” but we are truly incapable of love “until the honeymoon is over and gridlock arrives.”(p.119)  

 

What finally made me put the book down and begin writing this was a statement Schnarch made about self-confrontation.  Basically when we are finished confronting our partner in an effort to either mold and shape them or seek validation from them (it ain’t coming) then we have to deal with who we are.  We have to differentiate.  “Only when we confront our own essence do we become more tolerant and accepting of everyone else, including your partner.”

 

It’s taking the plank out of our own eye before deciding to remove the speck in someone else’s.

 

So marriage and emotional gridlock and anxiety and tension and trying for intimacy and not getting it and being all angry and frustrated are all just steps up that staircase to a new level of growth. 

 

Arwyn and I are definitely in that whole frozen tundra area of emotional gridlock.  That blow up of the last entry which took place over a month ago is almost a last gasp of confrontation in trying to get her to move.  And she is not budging.   Talking more is not going to get us anywhere, and I can see that now.  More confrontation isn’t going to work at the moment, until I know I can handle where ever it ends up going.  I’ve accommodated way past my comfort zone.  At least reading Schnarch’s take on icy conditions around here makes me feel better about it!

 

But I still have questions here.  Schnarch does a swell job of incorporating emotional and spiritual intimacy into the whole sexual arena.  But I still wonder about the concept of attraction here.  I guess I’ve had people tell me I look good since dropping the fat and I feel better about it.  But how in the world would I expect her to ever light up physically if she’s just not attracted to me in that way?  Yeah, yeah, sex has a lot more going on in terms of intimate connection but a body has to get naked and in the sack at some point, right?

 

I feel like I just took a step backward right there.  Oh well.  I’ll keep reading and writing as the mood hits.  This particular subject also has some implications as far as our other discussion at Unsolicited Advice, but I’ll get to that later.

 

D.

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10 Responses to Emotional Gridlock

  1. Square1 says:

    Well, I don’t know about Arwyn, and it is dangerous applying a broad brush to any group of people, but I think you’d be surprised to find that for most women physical attractiveness, where it is at least a little important is not high on the list of priorities. I think that as you continue to take steps towards becoming a better person, and seem less needy, it’s possible your level of attractiveness may increse to her, Insha’ Allah.

  2. 2amsomewhere says:

    Basically we have run out of patience and tricks and now must choose to confront ourselves because we are not making any headway with changing our partner. Ain’t that a hoot?!? According to Schnarch, I’m on the verge of some real electric sex, here!

    Well, it doesn’t quite work that way. 😉 See my reply to your comment over at Unsolicited Advice (WPV), which is currently holed up in moderation.


    2amsomewhere

  3. mage111 says:

    ah i love life in so many forms.

    I stumbled upon your blog here through a Google search, that occured when i went to take a quote from an email and instead of copy and pasting, i somehow had a google search done on my selection, your post showed up. and i have found it particularly interesting, and i just wanted to say thanks for writing this 🙂

    im going to look into this author now, Merry Christmas.

  4. Digger Jones says:

    That’s possible, square, and it would be nice. But by then, perhaps I’ll think I’m too good for her!LOL! Yeah, I know attractiveness is not as big a deal for women as it is for men, and Thank God for that! As a middle-aged guy, there’s only so much I can do in that department to overcome the “Eeww” factor we frequently generate in women when we mention that we might be wearing a thong.

    I get it, 2am. But can being bludgeoned, emotionally, be classified as emotional gridlock? It’s not moving in the right direction, for sure. I understand what you’re doing but am sad for it. Looking forward to better days for you.

    Merry Christmas to you, Mage! It’s nice to meet a fellow stumbler that’s kind enough to comment. I’m glad it was beneficial and hopefull think might turn ’round for you!

    D.

  5. Val says:

    OK, so my New Year’s resolution will be to go back & re-read the Schnarch book…
    But I recall being repulsed at one description in which he berated his wife for not being as strong a hiker as his big manly self was; it struck me as extremely misogynistic [I’ll go back to find the exact reference]!
    Oh, & Merry [belated] Christmas to you D!

  6. 2amsomewhere says:

    Val wrote:

    But I recall being repulsed at one description in which he berated his wife for not being as strong a hiker as his big manly self was; it struck me as extremely misogynistic [I’ll go back to find the exact reference]!

    I think I know the part you’re speaking of. He talks about how his longer legs enable him to keep a brisker pace on the hiking trail, but I don’t think he was trying to berate her for this.

    As the story unfolds, he turns out to be the one who behaves less healthily, losing his cool when they lose track of one another. She keeps her calm and does the right thing by staying put on the trail so that he can find her.

    I think the metaphor he uses in regards to his conduct is, “think of an alligator in hiking boots.” That’s a reference to the so-called reptilian regression that happens when someone cannot self soothe adequately in the face of the present anxiety level.


    2amsomewhere

  7. Satan says:

    “Basically when we are finished confronting our partner in an effort to either mold and shape them or seek validation from them (it ain’t coming) then we have to deal with who we are. ”

    Wow, I didn’t even know, but I went through this. I recognize so much of what you wrote here . . I think I am going to have to read this book!

  8. george says:

    Mr Digger,maybe GOD IS STILL TALKING TO YOUR WIFE but she’s no longer listening,maybe he is saying “heh Arwyn Digger is a truly lovely intelligent warm open sexy man but you just don’t fancy him,why not seperate and let him find someone that wants to rip his pants off regularly and remove his aneros or better still leave it in, , you’ve both been very honourable and tried to make it work but scnarch or no scnarch you should be able to really make love to your partner with your body,mind and soul, but heh what do I know I’m only god”

  9. The relationship seemed to be deteriorating between my partner and myself, that was until I read your blog. I woke up with the word ’emotional gridlock’ and thought I had made it up myself and I was excited. But as with any ‘new’ word or phrase that enters my mind, I google it first to make sure I am not plaigrising. It was refreshing to read your post. I do hope that both my partner and I overcome the emotional/sexual gridlock and start having hot sex, as stated by Schnarch, because over the last few weeks, he has been unable to be stimulated (he says it is to do with his age) and I am old school and feel resentful when I have to work hard to get him aroused, so I have given up. I am old school and see an erection as an indication that I am physically and sexually attractive, so in the absence of an erection, I see fondling as a waste of time. I took an erection for granted in the past, or should I say, since I got older, I realise that erections are a rare commodity – I will definitely appreciate them now!

  10. Trent Plamer says:

    wonderful issues altogether, you just won a new reader. What would you suggest in regards to your put up that you made some days in the past? Any positive?|

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