I want to give you a quick peek into a question I received inside my membership group, because I think the question of “When do I know I’ve tried enough?” is one that many people in indecision about their marriage have.
Here’s what this member asked (I wanted to use her words because that’s what I think will resonate most for you):
I have been working through the videos and I know we are supposed to watch what our spouses DO and not what they say. My husband assures me he loves me, but can’t have conversations beyond what’s for dinner without lashing out, doesn’t plan dates, doesn’t initiate sex, and gets annoyed when I want to talk about something important (he says, “are you really doing this right now?”).
We are trying marriage counselor #2 today and we’ll meet with her online. This is so outside his comfort zone (using technology AND talking about feelings) that he now says he may have to cancel because of work. I have told him this is important to me and I know he is only trying counseling to appease me. We can’t have meaningful conversations without arguing, we haven’t had sex in over a year, and I think we need counseling. I honestly think he would be okay talking about what’s for dinner and watching Netflix for the rest of his life. So he says he loves me but doesn’t value any of the things I value (connection, conversation, physical and emotional intimacy). At what point do I stop waiting for his words to match his actions and just decide it’s over?
I told her that she gets to decide when she’s tried enough to see if his actions will align with his words. The “when is enough…enough” answer is a very personal decision. That’s the short answer.
But here’s the longer and more important answer:
The way she phrased this question tells me that her husband does not know how close she is to giving up on the marriage.
And he needs to know that.
He needs to know that she is paying attention to his actions more than his words, and that’s what she will be using to make a decision that will impact both of their lives forever.
He needs the full picture so that he can make the best choices for himself.
Context here matters.
Can you sense the difference between:
- “I’m not happy,” and “At some point in the near future, I will stop waiting for your words to align with your actions and I will make a decision based upon the actions you’re demonstrating to me during this critical time in our marriage.”
Can you sense the difference between saying:
- “Counseling is really important to me,” and “I am not willing to remain in the marriage as it is today and counseling seems to be the best next step we can take to see if we can evolve our marriage to a place that feels good again. Are you willing to do that with me?”
One is hiding and protective; the other is both honest and respectful.
So, this got me thinking:
- What if we told the full, unadulterated truth to our spouse about where we are as it relates to the marriage?
- What if we were willing to risk an outburst or some upset feelings so that there are no surprises and they can make choices for themselves from a more honest picture?
- What if my clients could share as freely with their spouse as they do inside the very safe space of our membership platform alongside others who understand this struggle deeply?
Because when we have direct and honest conversations, shit gets “real” really quickly. Which means we are able to get the answers we need more quickly about whether or not the relationship can evolve.
The more honest and direct we can be, the quicker we will have the answers we seek.
If you’re struggling to communicate with your spouse in a direct, honest and loving way to better understand one another, let’s see if I can help. You can take your next step forward here.