A Reader Writes…
I have finished reading your book, ILYBINILWY. In fact I received those very words 3 months ago to the day. I found a lot of insightful information in your book. And it’s helped me learn quite a few things about myself and relationships in general.
In particular I’ve learned that we speak different love languages, and also that we have been stuck in a loving regards relationship for a long time. After some personal counselling and lots of reading, I’ve learned that my behaviour is and probably always has been to treat my marriage this way. And I’ve learned that I have inherited this undesirable behaviour through watching my parents marriage.
My wife and I have been married for 5 years, tomorrow in fact. We have been together for 15 years. I’m 32, and she’s 31, so as you can see we were very young when we started dating. I personally haven’t had too many opportunities, to learn of, and work on correcting my relational attitudes before or relationship really developed.
I guess my question to you would be, how can I help my wife see that we can come out of this crisis together and better than when we went into it? I must admit that we have had similar problems before. Probably 3 different conversations in the past. Not the exact same conversations but looking back they probably all meant the same thing. I do blame myself for not understanding what she was trying to tell me I’m the past. But at the same time if she hadn’t phrased her feelings, thoughts the way she did this time, I probably would have made and said the same mistakes that I always have.
I guess in my mind, I’ve learned to look at this as a huge learning and personal growth experience. The big problem now is, due to my past reactions to this, I feel ad though she has all but checked out. We don’t fight, we don’t really argue. We can talk about anything, except our relationship. We have begun to become very good friends again, but I’m worried that she may become complacent with just that. I love her very deeply, and can’t imagine my life without her.
How can I help her overcome seeing past my previous mistakes, and really want to get back to loving attachment? ( I hope I got the terms right, ie, loving regards/ attachment). Thanks in advance for your time and wisdom.
I know that it’s frustrating when you can see something clearly – ie: this crisis could be the making of us – but your partner is less convinced. You spend all your energy trying to find the magic formula, appealing to higher powers (like a book) and returning to it over and over again. So my reply might come as a shock. Don’t bother convincing her that things can get better, just get down to the everyday business of making it happen!
So how could you do this? Next time, she shrugs or says ‘it doesn’t matter’ or that you sense that something is wrong – don’t let it drop. Ask her what does that sigh mean? Stay with the problem. If she’s upset or worried about hurting you, tell her that you don’t mind. It’s better to be honest and get problems out onto the surface than burying it under politeness and niceness.
Start with little things, day-to-day household stuff, and work up from there. Learn about assertiveness (I have a chapter in ‘Resolve your differences’) and if talking about your relationship is difficult try Appreciative Inquiry (where you focus on what’s right and build from there) which I cover in ‘Help your partner say yes’.
Ultimately it doesn’t matter if she doesn’t believe in a happy ending, she will slowly begin to see the proof – small step by small step – in your relationship today.