Small Things Can Make a Huge Difference!
Have you ever felt the way this client did?
“When we spend time with his family he doesn’t pay any attention to me. When I try to talk to him he seems to look right through me”. The wife of this couple was frustrated, confused and feeling neglected in these family situations. This tapped into a theme for her of not feeling significant in her marriage and it made her angry. We had talked about this previously and her husband had been working on showing his love to her and making progress. This time, however, something was different.
As we started to probe this concern together the husband was becoming visibly upset and when I asked about his emotions the tears started flowing down his cheeks. He started explaining his pain and fear that his family is falling apart and he was in danger of losing everything. We discovered there were two things attached to these feelings. One was his brother’s death about a year ago for which he is still grieving but doesn’t really talk about. The other was a deeper insecurity that took him back to his childhood. His parent’s marriage had been rocky and he remembers the fear of losing his family and having nowhere to live. Even now he sees his father drinking too much and his mother threatening to leave him and it brings him back to feeling like that 9 or 10 year old boy. When these feelings get triggered he finds himself overwhelmed with sadness and anxiety and consequently unable to be emotionally present for his wife in those circumstances.
Listening to this conversation, his wife was amazed and filled with compassion. Her anger was gone and she took his hand to comfort him. Now we were able to talk about ways for them to recognize one another’s emotional needs, communicate that more effectively, and respond in more loving ways. They left with new understanding of those family gatherings and new perspectives of each other.
How many times have you assumed your husband or wife was just being selfish or just didn’t care, only to find out later something else was going on? It is easy to attribute reasons to someone’s behavior based on how you see it. Sometimes simply asking questions with the intent to really understand the other’s experience can reveal surprising things such as hidden fear or pain. I encourage you to put aside judgment and find the courage to open up and really listen and be present for your partner. The truth can set you free to connect in more genuine ways. Go talk to your spouse!
For more information on important relationship skills please take a look at my easy to access online program, www.reimaginemarriage.com
Here is another reminder of the power of seeing things in a new way. Watch this short video about how a child taught his teacher what it really means to teach and change a life forever. Warning, you may need Kleenex handy when you watch this: http://www.flickspire.com/m/guidance/MakeADifference