Recently I read a blog that a wife wrote to her husband. She thanked him for his support. She lives with chronic pain and expressed gratitude for all that he endures in their marriage. However, there was one sentence that caught my attention:
“It’s not easy being married to me.”
I thought to myself – “Isn’t this true for all of us?”
Then I imagined what it would be like if I wrote a letter to my husband entitled “what it’s like to be married to me.” Immediately I felt vulnerable. But then it occurred to me that I could include the positive as well as the negative. Whew!! Balance! And yes, I recognize that I thought about the negative aspects first, before considering the positive. It is often the case that we immediately turn to the negative; this is one reason why we avoid this type of self-examination.
First – Before you continue reading, let me say that I recognize that there are people who deserve a spouse who treats them better than they are being treated. This blog is not for you if you are being abused. You deserve better, no one, I repeat – no one – deserves abuse. Everyone deserves to be loved. Sadly, when abuse exists in a relationship, self-worth becomes torn down, resulting in a struggle to see your own worth. So it bears repeating, “Everyone deserves love and respect.”
However, for the purpose of this blog post, I am going to focus on the couple that enjoys a healthy marriage. When I work with couples that experience challenging times in their marriage, I have never heard someone say – “For the sake of my marriage, I want to understand what it is like being married to me.”
Mostly, both of you are upset, hurt, angry, frustrated and exacerbated with each other. You feel lost and don’t always know what to do next.
Consider this thought:
In the movie, The Story of Us we witness a marriage falling apart. As is often the case in marriage, each person has complaints about the other person. Keep in mind; I am not suggesting that complaints are not legitimate! However, toward the end of this film, one of the main characters has an epiphany. With distress and eye-opening self-awareness he shares with his wife –
“I finally see myself through your eyes.”
All of us wish that our partner had such self-awareness. What is it that prevents us from exploring what it is like to be married to ourselves?
There are a few obstacles to an epiphany such as this one.
First – it is challenging to see past the hurt and pain that we have experienced in our relationship. When we are hurt, all of us want our partner to see our hurt, validate it, and express regret for hurting us. The challenge is that both people are hurt. So, essentially it becomes “who goes first?” Meaning that someone needs to step out of their hurt to acknowledge that your partner is hurt as well. To do so, one needs to examine and then “see oneself through the eyes of our partner.”
Second – When we do see our self through the eyes of our partner, we tend to do it with shame, criticism, and harshness rather than simply acknowledge the humanness in you with love and compassion. Taking responsibility for our humanness is empowering. I know it’s hard to believe; however, if you own it, you can do your best to control it. Your partner may recognize that you are doing your best by taking responsibility for the challenges that you bring to your relationship. However, I know that you don’t want to be the only one taking responsibility. It’s possible that if you lead the way, maybe your partner will follow your good example. Keep in mind that no one can see the other person through the eyes of shame. When we feel shame, we are stuck within ourselves, and it feels awful. Learn to see yourself through your eyes with acceptance and love. You can read my blog about self-reflection and self-compassion.
And Finally – We fear that if we risk being vulnerable by sharing “what it’s like being married to me” our partner might hurt us with this vulnerable information. This is a tough one. If I share with my husband that I recognize that my expectations are, at times, too high or that my sensitivity leads me down the path of drawing the wrong conclusions about him or something that he said – will he then hold this against me some day? Well, I hope not. However, if he does, or your partner does, let them know that you own this part of you, and it is unfair to use it to hurt you. AND, remember, for example, if I am open about my, at times, high expectations – this does not mean that I have high expectations all of the time. And I am not sensitive all of the time. The more self-aware you are, the less another person can hurt you.
Thanks for reading!
One more thing… I really would love for you to share your thoughts with me. I know it is not easy to do! I understand because it took me a long time to work up the courage to begin blogging! But I want to get to know you. When you feel ready, please feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comment section.
About commenting on my blog – I am reminded of when I taught in the College classroom. I encouraged conversation. HOWEVER, I always let my students know that I wanted them to feel emotionally safe in the classroom. The same is true for the community that I wish to create with my blog. You will be safe. I am passionate about protecting those who are willing to open themselves up and share with all of us. Everyone should feel that they can express their thoughts and opinion without the worry of being criticized, attacked and hurt. Disagreement is fine, of course, as long as it is respectful of the other person. We can all learn from one another with love and respect. I want your comments; I want to learn from you just like I learned from my students. But only when you feel ready to do so. Like I said, it took me a very long time to find the courage to blog. So I don’t want to push you, only reassure you 🙂
Here is my gift to you, my new e-Book! I’ve included the lesson that saved my marriage. I care about the work that I put out to you, and I hope it is helpful. Please let me know!
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Details of any stories told in my blogs have been changed to protect the identity of people that I work with in therapy.
Photo Credit Always RalphBijker@flickr.comShare