Written by: Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern, National Certified Counselor, McKinney, TX. Supervised by: Debra Dian Larsen, MS, LPC-S
Are you feeling ashamed about your secret wish that your spouse chokes on the broccoli, or whatever “death wish” that you suddenly and briefly had running through your brain? You know that you do not actually want your spouse to croak due to the broccoli, but the fantasy helps you from choking on your own feelings of powerlessness. Actually, you are not alone in having these split second thoughts run through your mind. There are people who have stated that their lives would be easier if their spouse was not around any longer- the words burst out with urgency and full of emotions. After this outburst, most people immediately retract their words. Many people are horrified at what had just come out of their mouths-looking bewildered, embarrassed, apologetic, and immediately stating that obviously they don’t want their spouse dead.
So is it abnormal? Does it make you a bad person for secretly having a split- second wish that your spouse chokes on the broccoli? No, it does not make you a bad person. It does not mean that you are homicidal or that you actually wish for these things to happen. What it may mean is that you are experiencing many uncomfortable, painful feelings and that there are possibly many unresolved problems that you need to address in the marriage.
You are not happy. You are not getting your needs met and you are disappointed at the deterioration of the marriage. You may wonder where these passive aggressive thoughts are coming from. Ask yourself what is happening in the marriage, what are you avoiding and try to identify what the unmet needs are. Maybe you have already analyzed these areas and you are afraid, for various reasons, of talking to your spouse about what is happening. Maybe you have tried talking to your spouse countless times only to get the cold shoulder, minimizations or blame. Do you need to set healthier boundaries? Are there addictive behaviors that are destroying the marriage? Are you enabling the behaviors?
A partner of a sex addict experiences shock, disbelief and often suffers from trauma symptoms after finding out that her spouse is a sex addict and has been acting out sexually behind her back. Betrayed spouses who have found out about an affair or affairs experience pain, fear and anger. Spouses who live in emotionally starved relationships experience rejection, withholding and criticism on a regular basis.
If you can identify with any of these situations, you are most likely in a lot of pain. It is the kind of pain that cannot just be swept under the rug. Seek out community resources; educate yourself by reading self-help books. Consider seeking professional help in order to work through the painful emotions, and work yourself to a place of healing. Let go of the broccoli death wish, it may actually save a life- yours.
Ingela Edwards, MS, LPC-Intern is a contract therapist at McK
Ingela Edwards, LPC, NCC, SRT, CCPS is an individual and marriage therapist