Are You Using The Meat Grinder In Your Relationship?

By Staci Welch-Bartley

When I was a kid, my mom would make mincemeat in the fall that she then bottled and later used to make pies.

I was fascinated by how my mom could put a piece of beef in the metal grinder, turn the handle, and it would come out...well, tiny little pieces.

After years of working with couples to create what I call “toe tingling love” in their lives, I have discovered that there is another type of meat grinder that we use consistently in our relationships. It's typically used when we feel out of control or insecure. The difference is: the small pieces that come out of this meat grinder are not beef. They are pieces of our emotional hearts which have been ground up into emotional bits and pieces.

When your heart is in pieces, it feels like there is no safety to express and share yourselves with your partner, and the trust you once had starts to fade away as you begin to question everything. You and your partner both emotionally shut down or rage in an attempt to endure the incredible pain and chaos that has become your relationship.


Is the meat grinder being used in your relationship? Here is how to tell.

We are using the meat grinder when:

  • We make demands instead of requests attempting to control our partner physically, mentally, verbally, or all three;
  • We Interrogate with an onslaught of questions like the secret service does with a suspected terrorist;
  • We dish out shame and guilt when mistakes and disappointments happen. Thinking that if we can discover who was right and wrong in the situation, our problems will be solved, and then we can move on.

We truly don’t mean any harm to anyone while using the meat grinder; it is simply our desperate attempt to manage the emotional pain and chaos that is going on inside of us.

We truly just want to feel better and feel a connection again.

We have been taught that controlling and managing someone else is the same as controlling and managing ourselves. We essentially USE someone to get what we think we need without realizing what is truly needed is RELIEF from our own internal pain and struggle.

When we reach for the meat grinder for much-needed relief; unfortunately, it only drains the precious life out of our relationships until one day, our hearts are broken into such tiny pieces there is nothing left of them to continue.

Instead of the meat grinder, let’s develop the "love finder approach" by doing this one...well actually four things:

  1. Learn how to self-soothe the emotional chaos and fear that is running the show. What calms you down? A few ideas: Do something physical, retreat to a private place for some reflective alone time, journal, meditate. Get calm enough to move on to step two.
  2. Shift your focus. Focus on what you love or appreciate about the person you are with.  There is a reason you find yourself in a relationship with this person in this moment. Take a moment and remember.
  3. Now tell them. Tell them what you love about them. I know that this seems counter-intuitive but just try it. If love is too strong of a word for you in the current moment, use… this: "What I appreciate about you is…"
  4. Ask specifically for what you want and need and allow your partner to do the same. This will lead you to understand each other, which is the place of ultimate solution. Most of us have never been taught how to ask for what we want. Which has a lot to do with why we reach for the meat grinder. Download a free worksheet on how to ask for what you want at 100% here.

It is through understanding that new seeds of love and intimacy can grow. Let’s keep the meat grinder for beef only.

And remember...we all need love and understanding when we deserve it the least.