Ever wonder if it’s worth the trouble?
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.
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