Nurturing your Partner’s Inner Child
Jan 08, 2022
Nurturing your Partner’s Inner Child
BY AMY HARPER, LMFT
"Marriage is choosing to love not only your partner but their inner child as well."
When we married our spouses, we vowed to love them for all of who they are. We don’t often think about the fact that this includes loving not just their adult Self, but their inner child too. As much as our spouse is our teacher showing us where we need to address our inner child’s needs, we must embrace that teacher role towards them as well. Marriage is a partnership where we strive to do what’s best for each other, but we often get stuck when it comes to nurturing each other’s inner children because it is their inner-child that triggers our unresolved wounds.
As we have discussed, our current defense mechanisms are a result of the wounds we have developed through out childhood. When your spouse yells, screams or shuts you out during an argument, we might be looking at a manifestation of their childhood defense mechanisms and unresolved wounds. The typical response is to then unleash our own inner-child to fight back. It then becomes a battle of the children.
If we can bring awareness to the subconscious process, we can maintain our adult self version and show up with curiosity, empathy, and nurturing for our spouses inner-child. which by the way is exactly what that inner-child needs, but like most children they are going about getting their needs met in the wrong way.
Listening carefully to what your partner is saying during your arguments will help you identify what his needs are. For example, when they tell you that you’re always busy with something else and that you don’t have time for them, they might be tapping into the neglect that they felt in their childhood when their caregivers were too busy for them. This isn’t to say that you aren’t too busy, but they also have the early neglect wound adding to their current frustration. I like to say, arguments are the current frustration + the childhood wound, which is why they can become so intense, escalated, and emotional.
Most of the time, their hurtful words and actions are best directed towards their caregivers but they get projected onto us- and vise versa. Because of this projection, it’s easy to become defensive and take their actions personally, however when we are able to step back and see where the emotion is truly coming from, we can begin showing up for them as the friend and guide they need. No matter what their inner wounds are, they can be healed and doing so will lend itself to a happier and healthier life and marriage.
As we show up as gentle and kind guides for our spouses, it reinforces our spouse's natural desire to want to do better. When we can support each other in this way, we can begin to come to each problem as a team, curious and eager to explore the underlying process. This is the foundation of a conscious relationship. When we understand and accept our partners inner-child, they can begin to love and accept it as well, and begin to explore and resolve its frustrations.
Their childhood wounds cannot be reversed but we can give them a different experience than they had in childhood if we approach our interactions with conscious awareness. Choosing to hold empathetic space for their inner child healthy is the most loving act. Helping them identify the wounds, and working together to resolve them is a tedious process, but it is the work of a conscious relationship and lends itself to the deeper and more meaningful connection you’ve been craving. Marriage is choosing to love not only your partner but their inner child as well.
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