Carrying Emotional Baggage

Unresolved emotional baggage in a marriage can be dangerous, as it is often buried deep beneath one’s emotional surface and doesn’t have the immediate effects that, for example, financial or fidelity issues might have. In order to get beyond the hurts and resentments of the past, you have to be willing to wholeheartedly examine what happened so you can acknowledge and accept it and, more importantly, move forward from it.

Even the most ideal upbringing can still leave a person with emotional baggage. While some people may have a past of physical, emotional or sexual abuse that they need to resolve, others may have had extremely nurturing parents that set their expectations for a relationship unrealistically high. On the other hand, emotional neglect can be a source of pain that creates emotional baggage.  It doesn’t take a traumatic personal event to give a person emotional baggage, and it’s important that you deliberately unpack the baggage you’ve stored.

Key Culprits of Baggage

As time goes on, a person’s experience of resentment and hurt from past relationships can remain stored within their subconscious. If you fail to address past resentments and hurtful patterns of relating, you will be at an increased risk of repeating these old patterns with your spouse. However, it is also the case that problematic patterns of relating in the here and now can be clues as to baggage you may still be carrying unconsciously.  Here are examples of four common culprits from your past that can lead to problems in your current or future relationship:

  • Parental Programming – Your upbringing  left you with behaviors or attitudes you may not be consciously aware of, but which you learned in that environment or developed as protections within that environment.
  • Sibling Influence – As the oldest child in your family, it may be hard for you to share power in a marriage because you were used to being in control when you were younger.
  • The Ex – Past relationships are a source for learning and growth, but may also have created or tapped into insecurities which could tarnish your present relationship.
  • High School Skeletons – High school is a time of great insecurity for many, and any experiences from then of teasing, bullying, or feelings of inferiority may still be affecting you.

Acknowledging and addressing emotional baggage will enhance not only your own emotional well-being but your spouse’s as well. It will also allow you to become more consciously aware of strengths you may have developed as a result of those same emotional challenges.  Having the ability to forgive and move forward can lead you to a much healthier place for your present relationship.  Being aware of your emotional baggage allows you to more fully choose your responses to life’s challenges rather than to simply react.

Contact an Austin Marriage Counselor

If you need help unpacking your emotional baggage in order to move forward with a happy marriage, contact Austin marriage counselor Kathleen Snyder at (512) 659-8600.