We are talking about different ways to restore love in a marriage and displacement is the second way. Or I should say, recognizing displacement is the second way.
When Larry and I were at odds, I didn’t realize this was affecting me. In reference to this insight, it had more to do with the anger I was giving to our toddler daughter. Displacement is the transference of an emotion to an inappropriate object.
I thought I was angry toward Darcy because she didn’t obey me. But my over-reaction had many causes including transferring my anger from Larry onto her. She looked just like him–everyone said so–and without realizing it, I took the anger I felt toward Larry and dumped it all on her. She reminded me of him.
But here’s another example that refers directly to displacement within a marriage. It occurred at one of my speaking engagements.
Carlissa sat across from me in the retreat center and said, “I know it’s wrong but I’m just so mad at John. He won’t go watch our daughter’s drill team performances and it just infuriates me! Why is he so unloving?”
Having learned that emotional baggage from childhood often contribute to our present problems, I asked Carlissa about her youth. She mentioned several things, and then said, “My father never watched me be a cheerleader. I was so disappointed.”
“That’s it, Carlissa. You aren’t just reacting to John but to that disappointment from your childhood.”
Carlissa smiled as understanding spread through her mind and tears floated in her eyes. “You’re right. I’m overreacting to John because I’ve never forgiven my father. I guess I’m going to have to forgive both of them for not meeting my expectations.”
Many times, we become upset with our spouses and wonder why our frustration is so great. It may be that we’re not just reacting to the present situation but some incident from our childhood that reminds us of this present circumstance. Healing can come when we forgive the person from our past and healthfully respond to the present.
The next time you overreact, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal if it brings up similar experiences from the past.
In our next post, I’ll address another option for restoring our love: overcome boredom.