I want to talk to you about your marriage, and how it is working for you. If you are here, chances are that you feel like your marriage is not working and you are looking for some answers. I hear from people weekly that tell me their marriage isn’t working and they don’t know what to do to fix it.
Now here is the thing. It may be a bit confusing at first, or make you feel a bit defensive, but hear me out. We only do things because it serves us in some way. Good things, bad things, things that feel good, things that don’t, things that bring us results.
So how is what you are doing in marriage working for you right now? That may a difficult question to answer and you may be thinking that you are not doing anything at all that is working for you. So let me explain, as this is hard to follow at first.
I had a client who I will refer to as Mark. Mark was really struggling in his marriage had been for at least 7 years, if not longer. As long as he could remember, really. One time he and his wife were set to go out of town. Mark had planned a weekend away for them to try and “fix” things. It was one of those attempts at rekindling the relationship. He felt like going away would give them some alone time together and that maybe it would be a chance to bring them closer together. At the last minute, Mark’s wife changed the plans. She said was going to be able to go but was going to have to spend most of her time working because there was a work emergency. So they did go on the trip, and Mark ended up spending time by himself. He went to lunch alone and did many of the things he planned for them together without his wife. He felt rejected by this, and felt like her work was more important than him, again, and that she was choosing something else, not him.
Now, I think many of us could hear this, and think “yeah, I could see how he could get there.” But here is what happened in the relationship. Many times before this, Mark had felt disappointed or rejected when his wife would change plans, not show up to functions that were important to him, reject his sexual advances, and a number of other situations. He never really said anything when this would happen and never really opened up to her about how it felt, so he felt he had been rejected again and again and again. This latest one was just sort of the nail in the coffin for him, but he never said anything.
He was no longer willing to put himself out there and did not want to try to plan anything, did not want to try to initiate sex, and no longer wanted to even put himself in a position where she might not show up. Basically, he was not going to be vulnerable ever again, and end up feeling rejected. He had shut down. He wasn’t happy in his marriage, he wasn’t willing to express what he needed, and he was not going to open up to his wife. So the relationship didn’t get much better and, in fact, it got a little bit worse. He had started feeling the discord of it long ago, started building up resentments overtime, and now it had reached a point of disconnect that he no longer wanted to try.
So, how does this work for him? It really sounds like it doesn’t, but here is how it served him. Mark has not been ready to face a rejection again. The relationship is disconnected. Feeling like roommates or friends but not connected lovers with his wife was not working in the relationship but it was working for him because it kept him safe. He could keep the story about how the marriage had grown apart because it had, and he didn’t have to open himself up. He didn’t have to share his desires, or have to hear answers to questions he really wanted to ask, but didn’t really want to know the answers to. He didn’t have to make himself vulnerable to her, and put himself out there again with his wife who might potentially reject him again. By shutting down and not engaging he did not have to risk anything.
Maybe there is something about your marriage that isn’t working, and that is why you are here. How is that thing that’s not working in your relationship actually working for you in some way? I know it feels contradictory, like I don’t want this, and it’s not working for me but remember, we only do things because it serves us in some way. So how is it serving you?
If you want to find out how the things in your marriage are working for you and if you can create change that feels better, I invite you to schedule a complimentary Exploratory Session with me.