When I first met my husband-to-be, we connected. We laughed and talked, we ‘clicked’ had a lot in common and seemed to enjoy each other’s differences. Then we got engaged, and everything changed.
I changed everything.
I began to focus on what I thought I should bring to a marriage and what a fiance/husband’s responsibilities should be and then I began the mental list of all the ways both of us were deficient in these things and I began to imagine my entire future as if it was all happening in a moment. In short, I got scared and when we are in a state of fear, our instincts kick in and we either ‘fight or take flight’ and I did plenty of both throughout the course of our engagement. We were still connecting but not in a way that either of us was really thrilled about.
At the time, I couldn’t see that my fear was simply an affirmation that I was stepping out of my comfort zone and entering new territory, that I was expanding my experience of humanity and all that mumbo-jumbo. All I could feel was fear. I knew how to ‘do’ dating and I really liked that part. But marriage?!? I had no frame of reference I didn’t see it as a glorious adventure. My parents were divorced, my best friend, recently married, was struggling and was not the mentor I had anticipated. I was terrified.
I’ll spare you the temper tantrums and the stewing, they are such faded memories now, but I will say it took a while for us to reconnect in a way that we were both thrilled about again and getting to that point took work in the form of some very specific steps on my part.
The most important shift for me was to see how innocent he was in this whole thing. He was just being a guy in love who wanted to get married and I was turning it into a redemption song for every failed relationship I had ever experienced, read about or watched in a movie. He was bringing flowers and I wanted guarantees that if I married him my life wouldn’t play out like “The War of the Roses” or the worst-case sequence from “My Fair Lady”.. (I can see her now, “Mrs. Freddy Einsford-Hill,” in a wretched little flat above a store).
I had to learn to share my point of view about what I was looking for in a marriage and be open to his having a different point of view, and then from those two points of views we put together a plan that worked for both of us and didn’t worry about what it looked like to the rest of the world. . I knew this logically but my fear had me believing that If I asked about his point of view I might get an answer I didn’t want to hear and then I’d have to call off the wedding or be married to someone who didn’t want what I wanted, completely forgetting that the reason that we liked each other so much in the first place was that on the important stuff, we clicked. Fear can make you lose all sense of reason. It was a revelation to me to find that not only was his list of expectations for himself as a husband very different from my list of expectations of him as a husband but that I also kind of liked his list better. We don’t think the same but we have learned to put aside our fears so we can think together.
We’ll be married 25 years in May and even with all that goes on in our life, we stay connected, and the more connected we stay the more it feels like we’re still dating and I really like that part.
TAKE THE CHALLENGE
Today I challenge you, to see innocence. How do you do that? Fortunately, we start by seeing our own innocence. When I became willing to admit that on any given day I was just doing the best I could with the skills I had, I then realized that if that was true for me, then wasn’t it probably true for everyone else as well -including my husband. He was simply doing the best he knew to do with the skills he had. Realizing that was huge for me. It allowed me,, as Rhonda Britten says, to ‘give myself a break, without letting myself off the hook’. It enables me to be okay with where I was at the moment and open to learning the skills I needed to move my life and my love forward. As I gave myself a break and saw my own innocence. I began to have more compassion for others and see their innocence as well. As I became more compassionate, I became a ‘safer’ person for others to share with me (read: my husband began to see that he could talk to me and I wouldn’t take his head off.). As more people were able to share with me, I felt more connected to my world, to my family, to my husband. I felt more peaceful. I felt joy.
I challenge you to see your own innocence.
Situation & Question
Out of fear, I hid that my divorce wasn’t final from my boyfriend. When he found out he said he could never trust me again. We've been together for three years. When we have an argument, and I want to share my feelings, he says he doesn’t want a lecture or can't believe me anyway, and just wants to smooth the whole thing over and forget about it.
But I feel as if, he’s using my initial omission early in our relationship as a way out of ever hearing about my feelings on any topic. Even though, I’ve apologized, for and been honest with him about everything since that time, and he says he forgives me, he continues to bring it up.
So after our last argument, when he, again, wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say I left him. He wants to reconcile and he's been nice and wants to smooth things over again. Maybe give us another chance even though he's still not willing to hear what I have to say regarding our last argument. What do you think?
Deborah Says: When people use your past to control you, they are manipulating you.
He could have chosen to truly forgive you, see that you’ve changed your ways, and appreciated that quality in you and never brought it up again, or he could have said “lying to me is a deal breaker, I’m out.” But he did neither and now continues to use your initial deception as leverage whenever he doesn't want to listen.
If he is still unwilling to experience you as an equal partner in the relationship by listening to you, regardless of what excuse he wants to use to get out of it, if you don't feel you have a voice in the relationship, especially when things get heated, then Its not a healthy relationship.
Beyond that, you’ve learned that lying about anything is never the answer. If it took this situation for you to learn that lesson, then so be it.
When it comes to being honest, you also need to be honest with yourself. As you go forward, ask yourself if you feel, on some level, you need or depend on drama in a relationship to feel connected to the man you are with. If this is true, this can spell trouble for you and another potential companion.
If you are truly ready to go forward, and avoid this unhealthy cycle of arguing, not being listened to, forgiving and reconciling only to have it happen over and over again, then I invite you to use the next six months to prove it to yourself:
If you can do these things for at least six months, you will prove you are ready to walk away from drama and prepare yourself to be part of an emotionally healthy, long-term relationship.
Keep in touch!
Fearless and Warm Regards,
Certified Relationship, Fearless Living & Career Coach, Strategic Interventionist
Your Coach For the Personal Side of A Professional Life