Years ago my marriage was in a state of uncomfortable doldrums.
We were not fighting. We were not even being critical of one another—which is to say, I wasn’t being critical of him since I am the one with the much sharper tongue. Everything probably looked just fine from the outside.
But it wasn’t.
Because, slowly, ever so slowly, I felt like I was dying on the inside.
I felt my vibrancy and vitality were slipping away, and I couldn’t figure out how to be less porous.
I was doing all of my usual tasks and showing up for my children as needed. I made dinner every night and attended to our household in my usual comprehensive manner.
However, I didn’t feel seen. I didn’t feel appreciated. I felt a kind of underlying blend of futility and malaise.
There wasn’t anything in particular I could point to as problematic. In fact, I would have been hard put to precisely describe what it was that I was yearning for.
The only thing I was clear about was a constant invisible emptiness that I believed I shouldn’t be feeling, given how full my life was.
I took that experience and, unconsciously at first, blamed my husband for it.
Then I was more conscious about it and blamed him explicitly. I was less patient and more snippy with him. More likely to have an ungenerous expression on my face when disappointed, and more prone to feeling disappointed. I believed that he was not showing up for me and our marriage as I wanted, needed and yearned for him to do.
I thought about taking action to change the situation, to bring more oxygen to the dynamic between us, to be vulnerable and honest about how I was feeling… but the main thing rolling around my head was my uncertainty about whether or not it was worth it to say anything.
Once I said something, I wouldn’t be able to control what happened next.
If his feelings were hurt, I would have to deal with that. If he didn’t even understand what I was saying, that would be more painful than if I said nothing.
I really wasn’t sure what to do. So I wallowed in my experience and left it alone. Suffering valiantly and blaming him for it.
I wish so much that I knew then what I know now. I wish someone had given me Brene Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability” (but it wasn’t written yet). And most of all, I wish that I had known a couple’s coach who could have created a safe space for my husband to feel seen and heard, and for me to as well.
Do you ever wonder if it’s worth the trouble in your relationship?
When I coach couples, I am always deeply moved by the transformation that results when both members of the couple relax and trust that their needs and desires will be honored. It happens naturally because I have my attention on each of them, as well as the dynamic between them. It’s typically a new experience, and it’s different from a couple’s usual experience of navigating their relationship on their own; it creates a deep sense of collaboration between them, and immediately results in more authenticity, emotional connection and seeing one another with clarity.
Please reach out, or comment below, if you would like to learn more.
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