Wednesday, February 12, 2014

on marriage - a little more free therapy advice

remember the wedding scene in the princess bride when the priest says

mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. 
mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam... 

yeah. sometimes that arrangement doesn't feel so bwessed and dweam-wike, does it?

but, then, sometimes it does!

today in therapy jeremy finally had a breakthrough. it had to do with how he views work - the thoughts he tells himself about work. turns out, even though he's heard me beg him to stop working so much he believes he's not being a good provider unless he's working at a ridiculous level. i want to be careful not to tell his story because only he can do that, but i walked away from our appointment with this understanding: what jeremy and i are individually learning about ourselves is really the same thing. the way we think - our deeply held beliefs - shapes who we are and what we do. even if we are motivated to make changes in our lives, we won't see results until we can address the thoughts we have about our lives. 

powerful stuff. 

regarding jeremy's work, i'll tell you about my struggle. i gravitate toward thinking "he can't get home for dinner so he must not love me" or "he's working so late because he doesn't want to be around me" or "i can't compete with a computer" or "he's never home so i'm just done with him." feeling disconnected, feeling unloved, feeling jealous, feeling resentful...those are the feelings that result from the out of control thoughts in my head.

but if i tell myself, "he's really working late tonight, he must be having trouble with a project" or "i know he would rather be home with us, what a bummer for him that he can't be" or "what can i do to help him get through this stressful day" or "let's make the most of the time he is home." feeling sympathetic, feeling supportive, feeling helpful, feeling like a team...these are the feelings that can come if i choose to have a positive outlook toward jeremy's work. 

his job isn't something i should be resentful of, it's a blessing for our family. the amount he works isn't something i need to rile against. rather, i need to be a support for him as grapples with finding work/life balance. 

we all have our things. our issues. our struggles. 

within marriage we can decided how we want to react toward our partner's things. 

will i choose to be a helper or a hurt-er?

i was texting with a friend this morning and passed along this little nugget of information...our therapist was not at all surprised to find jeremy and me in his office when graham (our youngest son) was age four, turning five. nor was he surprised to hear i had felt disconnected in our marriage for years. apparently this is incredible common!!!! according to him, with the birth of each child, the marriage goes through a valley. there might be a few highs and lows while you're in the valley, but you are still in a valley. it's not until about the time the child turns five that the marriage is out of the valley and on firmer ground. sadly, at that point many marriages turn into divorces because the disconnection that occurred in the valley was just too much to bear and the couple can't make their way back together again. 

interesting, isn't it? 

don't you wish someone had told you that before you had kids? like, really told you that. like, sat you down, looked you in the eyes and said, "protect your marriage with everything you've got because you're about to go through turmoil and you absolutely can make it to the other side but you've gotta fight, fight, fight for each other to get there!" 

but no one tells you that. 

thank god for counselors who welcome you to their offices and say, "guess what! you're not alone! lots of other married people feel exactly the same way!"

jeremy and i, though, are living proof that even if you aren't told in advance you can still come out the other side and actually know and love each other more! we started marriage counseling in september, we've been fighting for each other for five months and today he had an awesome breakthrough. it's a good, good feeling. 

it makes me smile almost as much as the wedding scene in the princess bride.


No comments: