“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.” Socrates
My client L. and I have been working together for nine weeks and even though she had been trying to leave her marriage for more than a decade, she’s now feeling good about her marriage and no longer wants to leave.
She said to her husband, “I’m happy to be here with you and I’m glad that we are continuing to choose one another.”
But as soon as she said that she was filled with fear.
Maybe I shouldn’t have told him how I’m feeling.
If he knows that I’m happy and content in the relationship now, will he stop trying?
If he stops trying, we’ll end up right back where we were only a few short months ago.
This is actually a fairly common fear. When things improve in the marriage, we don’t trust that it can last.
Here’s what’s happening (even when we don’t articulate it in this way):
If I don’t keep my foot on the gas, we will go in reverse.
And the way to keep my foot on the gas is to keep him feeling insecure about the marriage.
As soon as he’s secure, he won’t keep trying.
Except that what L. had been doing to create change in the marriage wasn’t using threats. Instead, she had been open and present, communicative and loving.
And her husband was responding. That’s why they were in a much better place.
So now she realizes that as long as she shows up as the woman she wants to be, he will continue to respond differently to her than he had for so many years. As long as she showed up differently, he would show up differently.
So she didn’t have to remain unhappy or pretend to be unhappy so that he would keep trying.
She didn’t have to lead with threats or try to control his behavior. She could just trust in her own ability to remain open and present, communicative and loving.
That, she knew how to do. And that felt so much better.
If you’re like my client L. and have been thinking of leaving your marriage for years and want to see if change is possible, then let’s see if there’s a fit for you and I to work together.