Raising children is sometimes triggering— in very specific ways. I first learned this when our oldest was 6 years old.

At the time, my marriage starting to feel weird. I couldn’t find another word to explain it. I knew what it felt like to experience tension in our marriage, or numbness and disconnect. This wasn’t that.

I wasn’t actually sure what it was, however, I knew something was off. We felt oddly disconnected… even as everything seemed fine.

At the time I was seeing a therapist. I tried to describe to her what was happening. She responded by asking the age my husband was when his parents divorced.

He was 6 years old, just like our daughter.

I shared this awareness with my husband, and the ill-defined fog between us immediately lifted.

In its wake was his clarity, and his pain. Now he understood, as he looked at our daughter, why he felt devastated. He was looking at her and picturing his own experience when he was her age. The contrast between her joyful innocence and carefree ways, and what he was experiencing at 6, was challenging for him to comprehend. However, in this noticing, he was able to focus on healing his deep inner wounds. Meanwhile, our relationship again felt strong, solid and comforting.

We have 4 children. With 3 of them, as each one turned 6, something like this happened. After the first one, I recognized it a lot sooner, and he promptly accepted the invitation for deeper awareness and healing. It wasn’t disorienting after the first time.

Having such an experience alerted us to how multidimensional family life is—there is always far more happening than meets the eye!

And, 24 years in, we embrace it. We celebrate it!

Because every time something like this happens, we get to clear out old conditioning and become more alive and more present, to ourselves and one another. This is one of the purposes of intimate relating—it’s an invitation for old wounds to be painful again, in order to get our attention and in the process, inspire us to heal.

  • Have you noticed something similar in your relationship?
  • Are there overt patterns you are aware of, that result from a past experience which now strongly influences the present?
  • Are you aware how something in the present triggers an experience from the past?

I would love to know your thoughts on this. Please press reply, and let’s dialogue about it.

With pleasure and purpose,