Armor in our lives comes in many forms. They all look different, but all serve the same purpose. The armor is there to protect and keep people at a distance. Most of my clients come in with a heavy armor. They tell me how much they want to be closer and stronger to their loved one, yet this armor will not go away. They wear it with the desire for their loved one to break through it and connect with them. The first step of dropping the armor is recognizing you wear it and for what purpose. What does your armor look like? A few commons sets of armor I have encountered are addressed below:
Anger: Anger is an emotion we use to express ourselves. Its function is to get an immediate reaction. Have you ever gotten angry at your partner, expecting them to apologize and draw closer to you? The actual response you got was your partner feeling criticized and pulling away from you. Unlike sadness, which usually draws people into you to console, anger pushes people away. Our first instinct when there is a trigger to bring us to anger is to protect ourselves by stopping that trigger as quickly as possible. This is instinctual. Mammals do this as well when they feel threatened. This knee-jerk reaction comes from the hypothalamus part of the brain. We are human beings and have another part of our brain that allows us to problem solve, called the frontal cortex. This is the part that can help us process what we really need after we get angry. The anger can leave us alone, when all we want is a closer connection.
Their children: The children need tending to. “If I have to take care of my children, how could I possibly have time to take care of my partner? He understands. If I am very busy with them, there is simply no time for us.” Right? Wrong! Your spouse should be your priority. This trickles down to the kids and effects them so in a way, you are still putting your children first when spending time with your loved one. When there are issues in a marriage, even small ones, I see my clients using the children as their armor to not have to address the issues. They try to avoid the fights, only prolonging the feeling of loneliness in both individuals. Trust me, the children feel it too.
Their jobs/to-do lists: This one is similar to the children. “I need to make money.” “I have to work.” “Look at all the household tasks that need to be done.” Once you finish that to-do list you are exhausted and your loved one gets the rest of you. NOT THE BEST OF YOU. How fair is that to a marriage?
You may have your own set of armor that you can picture yourself wearing. What does it look like? Recognize it. Do you really want protection from the world, or do you want closeness? Consider this and journal about it. Seek out a mental health professional to discuss it and plan your next steps to allowing the armor to come off when the time is right.