‘I don’t want this to sound insensitive or like I’m trying to get our of taking some responsibility but I think that’s your stuff babe.’
Those were my husband’s words to me one day in the middle of an argument.
He coined a two-word phrase in our marriage this past year that helped us immensely as we waded through difficult situations and conversations that had the tendency to quickly become charged.
‘Your stuff’ & ‘my stuff’ is what he called it.
That little two-word phrase had brought us so much awareness and helped to deescalate rising tension.
It was like a light bulb moment the first time he said those words. He was right. It was totally my stuff. It was my past, my baggage, and my issues that were playing out.
You Bring Your Baggage With You
When you meet at the altar, you bring your baggage with you and they bring theirs, whether you both know it or not.
You bring your stuff, they bring their stuff and then you set out on this great big life together, hauling it behind you and dragging it around. It gets in the way and it’s a hindrance.
This isn’t about carrying each other’s burdens. We bear the burdens of one another when our lives are so closely knit together.
But we aren’t meant to carry another’s baggage for them or even with them.
The Clarity of Owning Your Stuff
We’ve started using the phrase with one another, ‘your stuff’ and ‘my stuff’ and it has really helped us have clarity.
Inevitably, tense conversations and moments of conflict arise and your stuff comes out.
It’s the unhealthy thought patterns that have ingrained themselves over the years.
It’s negative attitudes that have forged deep fissures inside.
It’s shame and self-imposed guilt.
It’s your stuff.
It’s my stuff.
My stuff was pretty ugly.
My stuff was the millions of ways, some big and some so small, that I controlled him and I controlled our relationship.
My stuff was the way I dominated our relationship, by my words and what I wanted.
Our relationship was dominated by the way I controlled it and thus controlled him.
It’s not like I set out to be some demonstrative controlling psycho wife, who does?
But it happened, in a million little ways, like when I felt disappointed, when I felt sad, when what I was hoping for didn’t pan out.
Over time the compound effect of all of those proved to be detrimental. My stuff was damaging our relationship and marriage.
Tough Pill To Swallow
When you’re confronted with your stuff, it’s a tough pill to swallow.
In every way possible you seek to justify, rationalize, blame, or deny.
But then finally you’ve got to own it.
You own your stuff.
‘This is my stuff, not yours, but its affecting you and eroding our relationship.’
That’s what I finally had to say, what I had to own.
And identifying my stuff that had infiltrated into our relationship enabled me to do something about it.
Owning your stuff doesn’t fix your relationship; it doesn’t magically change things overnight. But it gives you a great deal of clarity.
Owning your stuff helps you separate yours from theirs. That’s mine, that’s my stuff.
And once I had clarity and had owned my stuff, I could do something about.
Instead of justifying, blaming or denying my stuff, I could to relinquish it.
I could to loosen the grip of control I held. I could set aside my ways of responding that were denominating.
And I found something pretty amazing in the mean time.
Yes, owning my stuff, loosening my grip of control, and responding in ways that didn’t dominate him helped.
But what I found was something far beyond what I could have expected.
When I owned my stuff, it gave my husband the chance to have grace for my millions of imperfections. And he did.
When I identified and owned my stuff, it gave my husband the chance to love me even still. And he did.