Perhaps because I write so much about marriage, family and home or perhaps it is because I have been married for almost 49 years and am “experienced”, but I seem to be comforting a lot of women lately whose marriages are suffering. I am honored to do this. God knows I have certainly sought out mentors, counselors, and trusted friends to guide and encourage me along this journey. The truth of it is that no one, and I emphasize NO ONE, has a perfect relationship. We don’t live in Camelot or Utopia. We don’t wake up every day in Wonderland and we aren’t married to Prince Charming or even Princess Charming. Life can be challenging, sometimes brutal. I figure I have a choice as to how I handle what comes down my path. I try to focus on the beauty and the good and admittedly I do have a great marriage. Even after 49 years with the same man, I’m still in love. That doesn’t just happen without a lot of work and effort.
Dan said he heard someone say, “If you don’t listen to your wife’s dreams, someone else will.” That goes either way. If a wife doesn’t listen to her husband’s dreams, someone else will. There are many things that can destroy a relationship but not listening is a big one. Not listening to the dying embers of love from your partner because one is self-involved is a biggy. I hear it over and over. Listening involves watching, sensing what is going on in your partner’s head. Listening to the sound of her voice, the wistfulness in her dreams, the frustration in her life. Listening to the anger in his tone that isn’t directed to you personally but is a reflection of the pain of a job gone awry or a hit to his self-confidence. Listening involves much more than what is said. Listening involves taking in the energy surrounding a situation or relationship. Being in tune. And that doesn’t happen when two people have drifted apart due to a lack of truly caring to listen.
Self involvement is probably the one key characteristic I see that destroys a relationship. Some put the label “narcissism” on it and certainly I see that playing out in many situations. Narcissists believe everything revolves around them….reflects on them…..and everyone/everything better make them look good. Truth is, I think there are times when we all have a little narcissism in us but if it rules one’s life, it can run roughshod over a relationship of any kind.
I said I feel honored to listen and comfort. I feel honored that I am a trusted sounding board. Being real and vulnerable takes courage. Trusting someone to handle your hurts, anger and pain gently and lovingly without condemnation and judgement is a huge responsibility. Being unable to do that with your partner is a symptom of a serious breakdown of communication and connection.
Why is it easier to find someone outside your marriage to share your dreams with than it is to share with your partner? Where does that breakdown in communication begin and how can it be revived? Is it possible to heal a relationship after years of drifting apart? I want to hear your thoughts on this and I will continue this “conversation” in upcoming blog posts.