An Unhappy Marriage?
This week I got my husband back.
Preston told me that he is unhappy in our marriage. He told me in a phone call that came unexpectedly. It felt like a punch in the stomach.
He also told me that he often says yes to my everyday requests with zero intention of following through. This felt hurtful, and true.
From the outside we have a great marriage. I didn’t realize how much I like other people thinking that to be true and looking up to what we have, until I felt the vulnerability of hearing his words and pictured other people hearing them. Even people I don’t know.
It might surprise you to hear that I also believe from the inside we have a great marriage, too. For the last year, 80-85% of the time we are running on all cylinders. The other 15-20% has been a bit dodgy.
I have felt the yearning for way more connection; to be heard more, to be touched more, to be wined and dined more, to be seen more, to not solo parent as much.
I have felt, because of words said, that I want too much, dream too much, talk too much; that I am too much.
I rationalized it by telling myself that he works hard and only has so much to give.
The truth is this minority percentage left me wondering if we really are a good match. I fantasized about spending 6 months alone to see who I am without Preston’s ideas influencing mine. It was less about “leaving” Preston than it was about me discovering who I am now. I was a mere 22 when we met.
For Preston, he felt that he couldn’t share his opinions openly because every time he did I would say that his words felt hurtful or unsupportive. As a result, he kept a lot to himself and finally the damn burst. He could no longer take it.
He shared that he wasn’t happy with us because he wasn’t happy with himself. He realized that he wasn’t a man who acted with integrity and a high degree of accountability. If someone were to ask him if he demonstrated these two qualities prior to his breakthroughs, he would have answered with an unwavering yes.
Preston’s breakthroughs came from going through the Landmark Forum. I went to his “graduation” on Tuesday night and heard some life-changing information. I am now signed up for the class in February. As a coach, I was blown away by the experience.
Preston says that I often talk too much! Meaning, he asks how my day was and 30 mins later I’m still talking. Preston reported to his Landmark group that he is now listening to me and asking, “What else?” Everybody laughed. I was asked how I feel in the wake of his change. The only word I could think to say was “relieved.”
The facilitator, Lenny, used this great analogy. He picked up a chair, held it in front of him, and asked someone to give him a hug. Obviously, it’s awkward and somewhat impossible to give someone a hug while holding a chair. Lenny said the chair is our past. We carry all of this baggage from the past and it leads our everyday life. If you think about it, you are holding the chair in front of you so it literally is leading you. It gets in the way of everything.
The Forum allowed Preston to let go of his past, to let go of the chair. Without it, he is feeling a lightness and energy he hasn’t felt for ages.
One of the biggest things Preston learned is this: there is what happened AND the story we create about it. My understanding is the chair is our collection of stories that we have made up about what happened to us.
In our marriage, every little look, or a particular word, or a silence meant something to each of us. The truth is these looks, words and silences mean nothing because they are stories we have created.
We’ve adopted a new little saying, “It means nothing,” to signal that we don’t have to get bent out of shape if we don’t want to.
It was pointed out by a friend that I am one lucky woman to have a husband that not only realizes that he isn’t happy in our marriage because of how he feels about himself, but who is then willing to do the work to make us better. How many of us just leave?
Thank you, Preston, a million times over for showing up for yourself and for us. Thank you for having the courage to tell me the hard truth. Thank you for encouraging me to grow. I am changing even more because of your commitment to us.
Our re-connection is the best present I could ever receive although I’m happy you’re getting me gifts as well 😉 Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE gifts.
Lastly, I want to say that this period has been a right of passage. We have been together for 12 years. If you are in a similar predicament, I have learned that the grass isn’t greener and getting through this type of time makes for a marriage that only continues to become more wonderful.
Much Love to Your Courageous Spirit,