Being in a relationship is hard work. Parts of it are truly fantastic, but other parts are difficult and stressful. As my first wedding anniversary approaches I’ve found that one of the surprisingly challenging things about newlywed life is dealing with my husband’s stress and watching him struggle to deal with mine.
Our archetypes both help and hinder our ability to handle different stressors. They also determine what types of things stress us out in the first place. Everyone handles stress in their own way, and every archetype has its own coping mechanism to manage it.
For me, verbalizing my problems and talking through them with my husband (or truthfully, anyone in earshot) tends to be the way that I process and compartmentalize whatever’s giving me trouble at the moment. I just need to “wordvomit” until I find a solution that I myself have deemed appropriate. Often it becomes a seemingly unending stream of consciousness that goes on and on until suddenly — boom — I discover the answer to my problem.
I guess it’s the Performer in me that can’t suppress the urge to vocalize my problems. Everyone is an audience to my stress-induced monologues. The Royal in me demands an immediate solution and action to crush the stressor and move on to the next task at hand. For me, this method of managing mayhem truly works.
But for others it can be an almost crippling exercise. Those with different archetypes will handle their stress in a completely different way. Take my husband for example. He’s a Creative + Explorer with an underlying Caregiver archetype who needs silence and deep contemplation to problem solve. Only after a period of internal debate does he feel relief from what’s bothering him.
When it comes to our relationship the most interesting piece of the puzzle is that the mechanism that each of us uses to relieve stress actually induces further stress our counterpart. My barrage of words prevents him from having a moment of silence for clear thought, while his lack of speech creates a verbal vacuum in which I must continually fill with jabbering. It can be a vicious cycle that leaves us upset with each other and forgetful of what the actual problem was in the first place.
As we become more in tune with our archetypes and our relationship we’re learning how to pull back on our own actions to give the other a chance to release his feelings of stress. My husband will give me his full attention while I go on a brief diatribe, and I will hold my tongue (as hard as it is sometimes) and give him time to process the situation internally until he is ready to share his thoughts.
Understanding your own archetypes and shadow archetypes in addition to other people’s makes room for a deeper connection between those around us. It helps us communicate more effectively and have greater compassion for other people’s struggles and how they cope with whatever may be troubling them.
Pat Sandora-Nastyn is a Tastemaker + Performer + Royal, freelance writer and video producer. You can find Pat talking about relationships with his husband, Billy, on their super creatively titled YouTube channel Billy & Pat.