Addressing Our Trauma Stories Within Marriage
We have all experienced some degree of trauma in our lives. If you’re married or partnered, you need to have a trauma informed partnership to be mindful of how our trauma stories and narratives impact our relationship.
In this episode, Dr. Dan Allender and Becky Allender are joined by Dr. Steve Call and Lisa Call from The Reconnect Institute to share their experiences in addressing personal trauma in the context of marriage.
- Enroll in the Marriage Online Course from The Allender Center, featuring Dr. Dan Allender and Dr. Steve Call
- Register for the 2022 Marriage Enrichment Retreat, led by Dan & Becky Allender and Steve & Lisa Call
- Listen to a related podcast, Engaging Triggers in Marriage
Dan: Well, I don’t know if there’s anything more delightful, uh, than being with my wife on a podcast, but in this case, nothing more delightful than having dear, dear friends and colleagues, Dr. Steve Call and his beloved gorgeous wife, Lisa. Folks. Thank you for joining us, talking about a trauma informed marriage. Now, let, let me just start with this. Certainly there are couples who know that they bear significant trauma from the past that plays out to some degree in the context of their marriage. And this podcast is for you. Here’s the dilemma. I don’t think anybody can live in a fallen world and not know some degree of trauma. Whether it’s capital T significant violations of human dignity, trauma, or whether it’s just the daily, outrageous errors and misfortune. The fact we all know trauma. So if you’re married, you need to have a trauma informed marriage. So welcome Becky. Welcome Lisa. Welcome Steve.
Steve: Thank you.
Lisa: Thanks for having us.
Steve: Thanks Dan. Becky. So fun to be with you. And so looking forward to our conversation together, I think. What a setup.
Dan: I, I honestly thought, uh, this would be a little harder for us to like find a significant trauma moment, uh, that we could talk about as an illustration. And of course yesterday, um, Becky and I had a less than pleasant, uh, interaction, which not,
Becky: Was not even thinking about a podcast.
Dan: I wasn’t even thinking about a podcast.
Lisa: See, the Lord provides.
Dan: Yes, yes, yes. I wouldn’t put it as Jehovah Jireh in this case, but it, there was some sense, uh, of clearly provision, but really what we say is that, uh, in, in doing any kind of good work therapeutically, any kind of work where you’re dealing with the heart of the other, we’ve gotta deal with four major categories that we’re gonna walk through. The first is you gotta know your triggers because all trauma provides a context where usually unwittingly, we get triggered by an event happening in the present, but the real energy behind it is events or traumas that are often related to our family of origin or significant past traumas. So we need to know triggers, but we’re gonna talk as well about a category of reenactment, which is another way of saying all of us have stylistic unique ways of managing the trauma of the present from the trauma of the past. And so we need to know how we attempt to manage often exacerbates and intensifies the struggle between at least between the two of us. And then we’re gonna begin to move into what has to occur if there’s going to actually be change. And we’re gonna talk about that principle of dealing with a log in your own eye. But in that we wanna conclude with the reality that there has to be a movement of blessing. So four categories: triggers, reenactment, log in your own eye, and the lovely category of blessing. So I don’t know, should, should we jump into our marital mess?
Steve: Sure. I, I think before that, just real quick, it would say that what, what you just have offered, I think for many of us and many of those listening, uh, it’s very courageous of them to stay present to this conversation because I think part of where we can already be triggered is… Nevermind. I, I don’t wanna think about that. I don’t wanna talk about that. Uh, you know, that, like, how is that helpful? And I think the the last category, what you named is so helpful because it’s a reminder that we are called and invited to bless the other in the midst of their own trauma response and, and the reenactment pattern. But I think the invitation around kindness is so essential and so important in this conversation is that we remember that we are for one another in the midst of conversations like this, because I think for many people listening again, that temptation is, oh man, I, I don’t know if I wanna go there. I don’t know if I, I want to be intentional about remembering how our trauma stories and narratives impact our, our marriage relationship. So I think it’s really courageous to have this conversation together. And for those of listening, I think for them to stay present to it as well.
Dan: Oh, it’s so wise to put it that way. The fact is so much of us wants to just sort of apologize at at best. Yeah. Like, I’m sorry I blew it. Okay. Can we just get on? And sometimes that may be helpful Lizand maybe enough, but at least not the kind of encounter Becky and I had yesterday, uh, that would not have been sufficient.
Lisa: I was also gonna say, um, those people that are maybe listening, going, oh, I don’t think this applies to me. Uh, cuz I was one of those people about 15 years ago and I was listening to you Dan at a marriage conference and I thought, yeah, I, you know, I don’t really have trauma. I don’t really have shame. And it was so impactful like when I began to listen. So I think maybe people don’t even recognize that this is what’s happening or what’s going on or aren’t able to name it. So I want those people to stay listening too because I, we, we may not think this applies, but it really, I don’t know really a person it’s not gonna apply to.
Dan: Yeah. Well let, let, let me just set the context. Um, I, I needed to help Becky get a W2 form for her, which required going into an Amazon dark hole labyrinth with minotaurs and monsters. And, and it is every year that I have to do this, I hate it. I think they design it so that there are, um, well folks who will see marriage counselors.
Becky: Well, and I hate it too because I it’s never been easy. So I think we’ve had to do this, uh, for four years. Yeah. Four years. And it’s, and I have to like say ahead of time, Hey, I think I need a little time with you. Maybe like Sunday, we could look at this
Steve: And I think I need some help.
Becky: Right. But I have to say that 10 times over maybe 10 days. So, and then finally there’s a bit of time.
Dan: Well, I keep hoping that Jesus will return.
Steve: Before you have to go down the dark hole of finding the W2.
Dan: Yeah. And I I’ll say that, you know, trying to go into websites and get something done where it’s, you know, you’re given directions like just do this, this and this. It never works for me or maybe it works for others. But anyway, we entered into trying to find, uh, her W2 to information and the directions didn’t work and they didn’t work. And we did it two or three times and I was getting frustrated, not with her and, and in some sense, just at the process. And I sort of said, I, I, I need to stop. And she was like, no, no. Why don’t you try this? Because maybe we should try. So we kept going and kept going. And it got to a point where, and I’ll just say it in simple terms, I was so frustrated and so angry, my voice getting louder, like that’s not gonna work. We’ve done this two or three times. Why would you think it’s going to help another time?
Becky: Well, and then we get the code right. To check with your phone. And then we realize it’s not my right phone number. So we’re not getting the code. So I mean, everything should say put it away, but I’m like, maybe we’ll not get to it. Let’s let’s keep working.
Steve: So everything says, pause, is that fair to say?
Dan: I’m literally saying we need to stop. And, and yet in, in choosing to keep going, it’s my choice to keep going. But I’m blaming her for the necessity to keep going. And the tensions between the two of us just got to a point where we were, we were, oh, just full of, I was full of…
Becky: Then finally it worked though, right?
Dan: Well, this is well after the rest of the story, but so she got up at one point and I could just tell she was, um, uh, sick of me. And not only that, but deeply hurt, uh, and had shut down. And I don’t know how to say it better then I’m, I’m not thinking about this podcast, but all I know is it is clear. I have hurt my wife. Uh, and I got up and went over and things began at least a little bit to change.
Becky: Oh, I don’t even remember it that way. You know, I think that’s part of when you’re in something that’s so primal.
Steve: So triggering,
Becky: I thought that you were gone for a while. I thought we, we finally did get the form you did, but then it, it was just so costly. And then I remember you coming and your eyes were kind, and you said, I’m sorry, I hurt you. Didn’t I, and then I couldn’t even talk, I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t move. And actually the, it was so hard. It lasted the whole day, but we did hug. You were so kind, I didn’t wanna cry. Don’t cry very often, but I felt so stupid. And, and that, it took us a while to understand that this was coming from my childhood. Yeah. Where I’ve been told so often dumb, dumb, Dora dumb, dumb, Dora, you’re stupid. You’re stupid. But when you’re in it, you don’t know that you don’t know that you’re at such a young place and you’re so vulnerable. So his eyes were so, so kind, but it took us it, I mean it lingered the whole day.
Steve: And I think that’s the tension of what you both are naming is that when reenactment collides with the other’s reenactment, like we’re both remembering, we’re both being triggered. And now what, and I think that’s the, one of the most difficult moments in marriage is when our trauma triggers collide with one another, literally what you’re just naming, like Dan, your own trauma, shame around not being able to figure something out, what’s wrong with me, you know? And then for you, Becky too, the same, like it’s not okay to need. It’s not okay to ask for help. It’s not, what’s wrong with me that I can’t figure it out on my own.
Becky: Yeah. And, and Dan just gets more and louder, which is normal. And so, uh, I mean normal from my family of origin and that doesn’t happen as much, but as a early married couple, we didn’t understand triggers and reenactment, we just were in it. You know? So you would, I mean, we just, it’s our 45th wedding anniversary weekend, but we were taken, I mean, we just knew like, okay, we need to walk. We need to move our bodies because we couldn’t regulate ourselves.
Steve: We needed the other.
Dan: Well, and this will seem maybe preposterous, but what we’re going to accomplish, uh, in, in a conference that the Calls and the Allenders will do in may, the outline that we’re trying to engage now actually came back like, oh my gosh, we’ve both been triggered.
Dan: Oh no. We’re, we’re simply structurally reenacting what we’ve both done to try and deal with past trauma with ourselves and others. So I.. As crazy a, again, as it may sound, it was really helpful to have this material somewhere in me, even though it certainly wasn’t there in the beginning of the process to be able to go, you’ve been triggered by what, and then for her to ask the same question, you, I know I triggered you. What? And, and I think that was part of the beginning of the walk was being able to say, I, I felt you, you brought me to a point where I felt so stupid. And I was able to say, not, not condemning that and bringing my own, but saying, and I felt so futile. So between my futility and you, your feeling stupid. We were both beginning that reenactment of you freezing in the presence of very angry parents and me just getting louder, louder, and intense, uh, you know, with a complex, uh, family full of mental illness.
Steve: What’s the hope, what’s the hope of getting louder? Would you say,
Dan: Well, uh, either the person will quit asking of me anything. Um, you know, by, in one sense, potentially exploding with some drizzle of explosion already. It, it kind of like warns everybody.
Steve: Like leave, leave me alone.
Dan: Leave me alone. And take responsibility. You be the one at fault. Mm. And that, uh, you know, was, I mean, it used to work. And thankfully, because of, of maturing on both our parts that doesn’t work quite in the way that it used to.
Steve: And, and I think also what you named, which is very, very hopeful is that perhaps the duration of being triggered is less over time. The intensity is still there, but what you named is not the, the duration of distance is less, the return maybe is a little bit sooner. Like Dan, your awareness, like, to be able to say, I, I have harmed my wife in the return, like Becky, you said he was able to return, but, but it’s still difficult to receive that return when we’ve been maybe so wounded by the other.
Becky: Yeah. And I think even my body didn’t allow it to be all. Okay. You know, I couldn’t just, oh, thanks honey. Glad this is over. You know, it took hours of not that we had to talk all the time, but it was, uh, just a sense of, wow. That was so hard and my body feels still not well.
Dan: Well, and it was, it, it was your idea to walk.
Becky: Oh, we, I knew I, we needed to get outta the house.
Steve: So we need to walk. Not just…
Dan: We needed to move our bodies. Yeah.
Steve: As a way to recover.
Becky: In hopes recovery… we were friends by then.
Lisa: Was there a temptation of, I need to walk, I’m outta here. I’m gonna move my body. Or, or do you feel like you have that there was a connection made so that it was, I’m gonna call this one for us.
Becky: That was, it is that’s, that’s a big part of each of our days together is walking.
Dan: And I think for both of us, it was the beginning of looking, even though I was clearly, I, if, if one has to put words to the offender and the offended, I, I clearly was far more the offender, but I think there was something about Becky being able to name something of what was happening for her in freezing and making that connection to her own story with her parents. It just allowed me to rest and go, now, we we’re both in this, you know, I I’m, I clearly mishandled it, her freezing a, a normal trauma response, allowed her to begin to name something of the nature of what happens between us when I get intense and she freezes.
Becky: But you know what? I couldn’t have named it without your kind eyes. Yeah. You did return to the room. You did come and seek me out, which I didn’t want. Cause I, I knew I would cry and I would feel foolish. You know, it was not like what wanted to have to go through, but without having gone through that, we wouldn’t have, we wouldn’t have moved forward.
Steve: Without the return, without Dan’s return, without the other’s return. Like that, that is so essential to any kind of repair. Yeah.
Lisa: And so when you got up, that was maybe hiding, were you hiding?
Becky: I probably was frozen by the laundry room. I don’t know. Yeah. And then you came back to the kitchen and yeah. It’s really hard to cry when you’re feeling so, so triggered.
Steve: Yeah. Yeah. Triggered. Yeah. But it is the kindness. Like it, I mean that, it’s been such a theme in so many different conversations, but it is the kindness that allows you to maybe receive and that, that, but that’s intentional. Right? Dan, that that’s not just a automatic, oh, I need to go be kind like, I need to own the part I played in the harm that I’ve just caused my spouse. Like that, that takes a tremendous amount of integrity. I think for us, for any of us to be aware of, wait a minute, I, I, I, wasn’t kind in the way I spoke to you the way I acted towards you.
Dan: Yeah. I’m not sure I can do this well, but let me see if I can try. There was something, I mean, I was so clear in my own heart. How, in some sense, wicked, I have been in how I’ve engaged her, but there was something as well in naming, oh my gosh, you have felt so foolish and futile for not being able to figure out something that any human being on the earth who can read and has an eighth grade education should be able to get onto this website and do it. And then to be able to step back and go, oh my gosh, what is the violent contempt you’re holding for yourself? And then being able to go, oh, back to this word trigger. And then back to the fact of, you’ve always had to deal with a problem by getting intense and getting loud. Oh, and again, I, I, I don’t know if folks believe us that we can be this foolish and this blind, but the fact is I know I am. And, but yet to have that category there to literally be able to go, oh my gosh, this is what we’re gonna cover in the marriage conference. This is what we’re gonna talk about on a podcast. Literally like, oh, here it is. Here it is. And I also know there can be no movement toward the other, if there’s defensiveness, if there’s, you know, a, a, a kind of holding onto the judgment against the other. Instead. I mean, not that I felt like she had handled this perfectly, cuz at one level, I wish we had stopped.
Becky: A lot earlier and I couldn’t, I was just determined.
Dan: So all that to say, I still bear the log. And even though it may sound like a burden or as a form of contempt, actually it’s incredibly freeing to say, I can own my part. I don’t know what she’ll do with hers. I can own my part. And in that there is the beginning of, of a kind of grief. That I think will set the context to eventually come to the ability to bless the other because you are allowing your own heart to bless your heartache, to bless the failure of engagement, not bless in the sense of condoning it. But being able to say I have a, a growing tenderness to my own heart’s failure and therefore I can enter more tenderly into the harm I’ve created for my wife.
Becky: And then too, I think we’re just kind of getting this to be able to do this with one another to return with our own story. I’m learning more of his story. He knows more of my story. Yes. And then, you know, yeah. Like we’ve, we should be better at this.
Steve: I think we’ve been saying that for ourselves for like quite a few years, like, wait, we’ve been married 35 years and how come we haven’t figured this out yet? What, what is what what’s going on between us? I think one, one thing just more to highlight is I think sometimes what is so hard and what you’re talking about Dan is sometimes I think we justify in the moment, our harm of the other because of the harm that we’ve endured. And, and I think that is just such a part of the reenactment part of the trauma triggers in those moments is I I’m, and it’s almost not even conscious. We, I, I deserve to harm you because of what I’ve endured because of the, that I’ve endured. Is that in, in those moments, I think sometimes that’s our only way to cope with the trauma that we’ve endured. The harm that we’ve endured is we displace it. We want to place it. We want to project it. And we justify it in the moment. And then two minutes later we just feel so terrible about what we’ve done.
Dan: Yeah. Well, and for us, as Becky put it, well, I, I think we came to a point, particularly on our walk of just being able to care for one another, to explore something of what each of us felt, the triggers, the reenactment, something of the log in one another’s eye. But I think what was more important was the ability in forgiveness, and there was forgiveness for each other, but primarily for my failure. The reality is forgiveness doesn’t take away in some sense, the cortisol rush, the stress biochemicals. The, in one sense, we were both flooded by all that occurred. It didn’t ruin ruin the day, but it took a lot of work to just stay together, not requiring everything to be perfect, uh, as we would’ve both wanted. And even, even, I don’t think we’ll actually admit what time we went to bed, but let’s just say it was early. Cause by the end of the day, we were just, we, we could, we could barely concentrate on getting dinner and being able to just sort of put aside the dishes… That weary that comes when there has been so much internal tumult, we still have to bless even that to bless our bodies. In the middle of the kind of intensity that generally happens when there is that kind of failure.
Steve: Yeah. And I think that was true for us this last week. What you just named is when we have those kind of maybe relational injuries, you know, like what we could call this reenactment or this trauma trigger, like in a way we we’re wounded we’re relationally wounding or have been wounded by the other. And I think Dan, what you just named is so essential is this time of recovery for, from, from this relational injury in that, in like what you talked about earlier in the day. I mean, I, I, I would say that was true for us this week. I don’t know what it is about Sundays, but for us Sundays seem to be the trigger day. I, I have no idea. Well, what the connection is to that, but there is something in something about Sundays. It, it it’s it’s as if it, the door to the possibility of either reenactment or being triggered, something happens. And, uh, do you wanna share part of what happened on Sunday?
Lisa: I guess there’s more open time on Sundays or something, but yeah, look, um, well for, for us, I think it was a similar, like explosive quality, but, um, yeah. It started off with a simple question. What I, um, I think I made a bid and for some connection and all of a sudden we were in this heated argument that we’d been in many, many times before. And um…
Steve: Let’s just say it didn’t go, well, it didn’t go, well, it did not go well. We were driving on a familiar road. At a particular time of day.
Lisa: This I think, yeah. I think we decided because we already had planning to go for a walk. So we were driving to our place where we were gonna walk and, but it was continuing in the car and there was this very heated discussion should call it a discussion. Um,
Steve: It wasn’t a discussion.
Lisa: Where there was a lot of loudness from him.
Steve: I mean, I, I think I resonate and maybe Dan and I that’s where we connect at times is, is Lisa had made a bid for connection, a really kind bid, uh, but, but a familiar bid in the way that somehow reminded me somehow I am not what Lisa needs at times. And in my reaction, I mean, I, I was just, I would say explosive, like I was unkind. I said, harmful and hurtful things. And, and in that very moment, I I’m realizing I it’s as if I can’t control what’s happening, but I’m also aware of it. You know, that, that I’m, I’m triggered, I’m highly triggered it. Here we go again, is what a trigger is. It’s here we go again. My body’s reacting to this internal, but external judgment of there’s something wrong with you when you can’t be what the other needs. And that was my story of performance. Like when you can’t do or be what the other needs in whatever way that is meant to be, then, then I react in just this. I mean, I would say very, very unkind way of being with Lisa and, and…
Lisa: The loudness. I relate to the loudness.
Steve: It’s hurtful. It’s just so hurtful.
Lisa: It’s almost like there was this cloud that said failure, you know, like he was just trying to fight his way out of this failure and I’m watching it, we’re watching it kind of unfold. I mean, at least for me, I think I’m watching it knowing we’ve been, we’ve been through this so many times. We know the stories, we, we know the triggers and yet here we are like, you can’t, it’s like a flood it’s just coming. And, and I, and I’m, I think I was asking, I was saying, okay, let’s, you know, and I’m trying to recover by, you know, trying to use language that we can gain some understanding, but it just, the, the flood just was happening. And so umm…
Steve: But I was so unkind and Lisa, I mean, you were, you were tearful.
Lisa: I think I had my hands up at one point. Yeah.
Steve: Like what stop, almost stop. And I, and for three seconds or so I couldn’t stop. It was, it was this tidal wave of intense judgment, internal judgment. And, and now I’m projecting that. And I’m, I’m saying it’s about her, you know, I’m using words that we teach about not to use always and never, you know, simple phrases like you always, and you never, and, and again, it’s, I think that’s a way that most of us cope in those very moments of, I cannot bear the heartache, not only what I feel about myself, but now the harm that I’ve caused her in that very moment.
Dan: And when, when, when did, when did the whole scenario begin to sort of stop you.
Steve: Stop me. Yeah. Uh, probably three minutes later when Lisa started to tear up and she was able to name and put words to, it’s so hard for me to ask for what I need. Uh, and, and I, I mean, it, I, I melted almost like I, I, my arms just went limp. I almost couldn’t even drive. Like I am so sorry for using those words against you. Like, I think that was the most like significant moment, not just of expression expressing the sorrow, but being aware of that’s where her story plays out in that very moment, you know, for Lisa to be able to put words to, it is so hard for me to name what I need, uh, you know, that part of my story and, and it, and she, wasn’t saying that as a way to further shame or blame, but to say, I, I can’t bear the violence against me. Um, and, and you know, that this is so difficult for me to name. It was just such a tender moment. And, but, but sorrow.
Lisa: Which, which is newer, because I think, I think I was able to stay more present knowing, okay, I know what’s happening. I know what’s happening. Here’s our stories are being, and even though this was hard and it was making me tear up, I think before I would just fight back or I would run or something.
Steve: You’d go completely silent. She would, you would, Lisa would withdraw, like there was no access.
Lisa: It was just like, I’m looking out the window and I’m not turning around and so there was a pre there there’s something that stayed present, even though it was so like, intense, like if anybody could have been there, be like, wow. Um, but yeah, I think I don’t, I don’t remember what I said, but I remember feeling like, okay, I’m not going under, I know what’s happening. It’s really hard to hear this, but I’m not going under because…
Steve: Well, I think the trauma response Lisa has had in the past is to run, is to flee. And I think, I mean, that, that has been familiar pattern, which only reinforces shame for both of us, you know? Yeah. And so the capacity ability for her to stay present just for a little bit.
Lisa: To hide, I think hiding is really…
Steve: But also to receive, I mean, a little bit of what you’re talking about, Becky, the, the, the capacity to receive. I think that that was the, I don’t know how we would’ve navigated anything different without that. Yeah.
Dan: Yeah. Well, I, you know, you’ve said it and I’ll just underscore, I wish I wish to heaven that we were not repeating structures. That create great harm against someone whom I love and would claim that I would die for yet in that moment there’s something in me that really would like to kill, uh, and do, and to be caught, to be caught in the throes of that kind of tsunami. I, I just don’t know how I would be able to extract myself and enter into her heartache if I didn’t at least have some of categories operating, at least sometimes at the intersection of, oh my gosh, we’re both being triggered. Oh my gosh. We’re both playing into the structures of reenactment of how we both have handled, not just one another, but our worlds well before we ever met one another. And somehow how in that, when I saw, as you did Steve, the heartache that I had brought, I felt pierced. But her engagement, yeah. Staying in, not, not shutting down, but staying in to receive my grief, my sorrow that I, in some ways was a, a kind of love making. It really is a return to an intimacy of our bodies being able in, in our case standing to be able to hold each other. Uh, and again, to say it didn’t take it all away, but it was the beginning of a repair that without that, I, I, I just think of how many couples I’ve worked with. You’ve worked with who have those events happening hundreds of times without any repair yet, because there really is love. They keep in some sense together, but the debris, the debris just mounts on the shore, the tsunami just brings in so much crap that you do wonder how it is that love can be restored.
Steve: And, and I think too, what you just said is helpful. It’s, it’s not as if these moments won’t occur, it’s that when they occur. And I think sometimes we have this illusion that all is well and will always be well, but no, we, we will be triggered. Each of us will be in our marriage. I think that’s true for all marriages, but the intentionality of how we’re we repair, how we move, how we bless, how we’re kind, how we receive, how we own, how we name the harm that we have caused the other, that to me, that that’s so essential in the repair process and the recovery process. Yeah.
Lisa: Just understanding the categories. And I mean, I think I was impressed when you guys were sharing that, how many times you’ve been able to share your stories with one another? How, how many layers upon layers upon layers of you understanding one another’s stories and also you, you were approaching an event that you knew was particularly trigger, triggering, right. And yet, and then here it is, you know, like if we’re trying to avoid these things, or if we’re, we’re saying, oh, we’re gonna give you help to, you know, so this doesn’t happen in your marriage. That’s not true because we have all the tools we know we’re just about to embark on something that’s potentially triggering. I mean, maybe ours is more of a surprise, even though it was a really repetitive, um, event that happens often in our marriage. And yet our bodies react, we have this reenactment. And so it’s about the repair.
Becky: It is about the repair and yeah. When you’re in it, like you, you’re not thinking you’re just feeling and you’re feeling, I mean, yeah. All, all knowledge goes out the window without realizing it you’re just caught. Yeah.
Dan: Yeah. I think that almost the image again, of, of drowning. Like at that point, uh, I’m fighting just to get air, uh, and to, uh, take out any threat that seems like it’s going to add even more harm. And so it is, I, I don’t have a better word for it than there’s a kind of insanity that comes in those moments. And that whole question of, well, how do we return? You know, there are countless situations where we can fail one another. And as the scripture says, love covers a multitude of sin. This was not one of those moments where love covers it. So we can just get on, there had to be a kind of return to naming the triggers, a return to naming the stories of our lives that have brought us this reenactment structure. But I think, again, I come back to this until you can name the log in your own eye. And that doesn’t mean just naming your failure, it’s naming context. It’s naming the particularity of what’s happening in that moment as it relates to the larger world that you know about yourself. So one of the questions that Becky asked, uh, during that, that time time was, did it ever help to yell at your mother, you know, the intensity and anger you brought, did it ever seem to work? And I mean, that question was like…
Steve: Beautiful question. Beautiful question. Good for you, Becky.
Dan: I don’t wanna talk about it. Let’s go on. And yet just the question itself brought images from scenes that began to sort of play out like a film role. And again, I don’t know how other people think, but I would have like this image of, of, of the kitchen table and an interaction with my mom or my dad, and then it would flip to another and another and another, but her patience to bless the kind of rapid eye mind image movement, and inviting me to in one sense hold fragmentation was someone could actually care for that man, that boy sharing those stories. Uh, it was, again, I would go back to the word that was blessing. It was not. I bless you. It was, I can hold your suffering and blessing to you for the courage to do so and to open the door to what it means in terms of our relationship.
Steve: And I so love that question, Becky, cause it it’s rooted in curiosity, which is so essential to repair with without curiosity of the other story. And what’s being played out there, there is no repair. So I think that that just a, just so essential and beautiful way of engagement.
Becky: Well, and I just give God the glory for that. Cause you know, when your body is still caught in that, um, trigger and reenactment, you can’t always think properly. So I don’t, I can’t take ownership, but thank you.
Dan: Well was your words. But again, uh, I agree there is something of the, the heart of being able to say, this is what I want for my life. This is what I want for my wife and my marriage. I want her to know how blessed she is and uh, you know, uh, there was anything but blessing at the beginning, in some sense of the, there was cursing. And I think that’s maybe too stark for some people to say, look, these are your two options in your marriage in any one particular moment and over the trajectory of a year, 10 years, whatever it is, are you committed to blessing one another? Or is there an incipient cursing that ultimately undermines the presence and life of the other by the, the, the, the royaling contempt or at least the undercurrent of contempt. And I think that’s the key that we’re trying to invite our marriages to, but we’re also trying to say, look, uh, we may not be that good living it out at times, but indeed we are doing some, but we want to invite you listener, especially for those who have some awareness of your trauma. Can we talk with you? Can we invite you into a process again, it’s not infallible. It certainly hasn’t keeping us, kept us from our own struggles, but I think it’s kept us from disaster. Uh, and or from just being innner-ed and cold and hard toward one another even, and in a somewhat decent marriage. So that’s what we’re trying to accomplish when we invite you, uh, into this event, uh, May. Is it May?
Steve: Yes. May 13th through 15. Yes.
Dan: Uh, Where we’re basically going to, the Calls and the Allenders are going to lead both teaching, but also shall we just say exercises? It’s, it’s no small groups, uh, it’s no share your story with 30 other people. Uh, it’s a intimate and compelling, but also highly practical and experiential work to help you get near your triggers and to name them, to begin to name and invite you to see how your reenactment structures are playing out, but also to underscore, look, we need to be real clear what it means to name the log in your own eye because that disruptive process of owning your own failure, but also how the failures came to be can really open up the potential for a different kind of a marriage kind of sweetness, even in the midst of harm of being able honor to bring delight ultimately to bless. So we’re gonna invite you, we’ll tell you more, uh, you can check theallendercenter.org, theallendercenter.org, uh, to get more information, uh, about this conference. Uh, and to know that at least the couples teaching it, bear some scars.
Becky: Yeah. And I just wanna say, Steve, thank you for complimenting me for saying that about Dan. I think sometimes I cannot, I have a hard time receiving such attunement and kindness and I, I just, I push it away sometime and I’m aware that, that was, that was good that I said that.
Steve: Yes, it was.
Becky: Thank you for noticing,
Dan: Of course.
Becky: And I wanted to just say that to you,
Steve: Thank you. Of course, Becky. Yeah. You bet such goodness between the two of you and such a delight to have a conversation with both of you. And we, so look forward to the May event with you and having more conversations like this together.
Dan: Yeah. And by then, by the way, COVID will be entirely resolved, right? There will be no concerns, especially in the city that lives underneath a mask. We’ll be doing this in Seattle at a lovely, beautiful grounds to be able to walk to talk. May, of course, is one of the sunniest and rain free months. And if you know anything about Seattle, you know, I’m lying nonetheless.
Becky: But it’s not January.
Dan: No, it’s not January,
Steve: Not January. That’s for sure. Yes.
Dan: So. Anything else before we end gang?
Lisa: Can I just say when you were ending, Dan, I think when you used the word sweetness, I, I think that’s so true. Like even though we shared this, you know, event that there’s in the repair and, and in the daily, there’s a, a sweetness that we have in our marriage now after 35 years, that in the beginning, you know, the first few years when I think, I think our goal was, oh, we’re gonna bless each other. And we tried to bless, but there just was this, you know, that force,
Steve: There’s a lack of repair.
Lisa: And the lack of awareness, there’s a lack of all kinds of things, but yet I really, we wanna bless each other, but you, we just don’t have the capacity. We didn’t have the capacity, you know? And, and so now, even though yeah, things are coming out and we have to talk about ’em and it just looks really messy, but there’s a sweet, there’s an authenticity and a sweetness that is just irreplaceable and you can’t get it by just trying hard. Right. You have to do the work. And so I think that’s the beauty. So I’m really glad that we ended with that because it is, it is sweet and we get to enjoy that on, on the daily basis.
Dan: Well, it is such a pure delight to be able to do this with my beloved, but also, so delightful to be able to do this work with the two of you.
Steve: Yeah. And the two of you as well, so fun to, and a privilege to be on the journey with you. Yeah.
Lisa: Very much. Oh, thank you.