I wrote an earlier post about going to marriage counselling, and I return to that today. As we moved through the weeks of uncertain emotions within a commitment to stay married, we needed strategies and new tools to help us to improve things. If we had simply said we’re sticking this out, without trying anything new or different in our ways of relating to each other, I don’t think anything would have changed.
We both needed to, and did, maintain an openness to trying new things, alongside being willing to accept that our perceptions of each other were not accurate. That was part of treating hope as a reality, rather than wishful thinking.
Today I want to share something that has been pretty fundamental to this restoration, in the hope that maybe someone reading this will identify and it may help you to see that your situation may not be as hopeless and life draining as you believe it to be. It is possible to come back from a place of deep hurt and find ways to reconnect with your spouse or partner.
I had harboured a belief that my husband did things to hurt me. My logic went as follows. He is a good guy. He isn’t unkind. He treats people well. Therefore if he does something which hurts me it is so out of character that it must be intentional. Yes, even I can see the skewed thinking in there and we had agreed years earlier, that if I thought he was being hurful to me I should assume that he didn’t mean it and that there was some level of misunderstanding. I did try that but over the years the actions seemed to me to be so obvious in their consequences that I couldn’t believe that they were unintentional. Surely he knew me well enough after all our years together to know that doing X would make me feel Y?
I came to a realization, through the counselling process, that he was telling the truth when he said that he had never meant to hurt me, but that realisation brought with it a recognition of other difficulties in our relationship.
This was one of the times when the ‘in making decisions turn towards each other and not away’ advice had to be implemented. I could either choose to say I can’t do this , and turn away, permanently. Or I could choose to turn towards my husband and work at finding ways to compensate for the weaknesses that were being highlighted in our relationship.
I write this at this point in the story, because our anniversary weekend away helped me to see a way in which I could choose to turn towards my husband. I enjoyed our time away. I felt happy. Why? Not so much because of what we said, or the feelings that were shared between us, but because we did things that we both enjoyed. We didn’t talk about how they made us feel, nor did we necessarily feel the same things about them, but the by-product of our experiences was positive emotions for each of us. We realised that we could share experiences which would make us individually feel good, and therefore we would equate each other with good emotions. This may seem contrived, but I would suggest it’s being realistic. It was seeing things as they really were and working out how to make them better.
We thought about what we liked to do together – outdoor activity – and so we returned home with one more positive shared experience in our lives. We are still making time for this activity. It gives us hope. Every time.
Lights in the darkness.