Just Another Day In the Office
I have been working with a couple for the last few weeks who beautifully illustrate the opportunities of a long-term marriage. I want you to hear about them because they could be a version of your marriage. They are quintessentially a man and a woman with a midlife struggle, which means it is not enough to stay married for the family. They are typical of many couples who come to see me because they are not “communicating” well.
This couple has been together for about two decades. The husband is practical, resourceful, and logical. The wife is creative and has tried to build a business around her artistic talent and has had modest success for a while. She has raised the children. Now she wants more.
She has had a conversation at home multiple times about what she wants. Her husband does not understand her. She is frustrated and comes to my office to have the same conversation. I was an audience to this conversation and saw the failure of the wife to present what she wants. I was unsuccessful in helping her express her vision and desires because I didn’t hear her either. It was a failed session, and the wife expressed her frustration clearly to me.
The session regressed to the wife’s demand to move into a separate living space they own together. She wanted monthly monies to make that work for her. This is how far the conversation degraded. It was tragic, in my view.
The husband came in by himself next time and expressed his hurt and confusion. He reminisced about the businesses they created and shared how he loves to work and prepare for his family’s future.
I started talking about “the more” his wife wants in their life together, and I saw the husband divert the subject. I was already understanding the concrete and practical nature of his personality. I tried again to represent what his wife was trying to say, and I saw the husband change the subject again. He wasn’t getting the message by my efforts.
I reached for a metaphor that just happened to work. I told the husband he was well-developed in his left hemisphere. He is practical, business-oriented, and successful. I told him I suspected what his wife wants to develop is the right brain aspects of their relationship so that their emotional/spiritual/creative life can grow.
The husband lit up with new understanding. He is happy to join his wife in this venture. He went home and had a good conversation with his wife that night. I heard from them in different texts about the breakthrough that made them both happy.
I am sharing this story because it represents two themes at the heart of our Falling in Love Forever program and is central to every marriage that intends to be lifelong and enriching to both partners.
The first message of the course is how men and women are equal but different in some aspects. Specifically, because women have children, the development of their personalities over time has a different schedule. That means they emphasize different values at different times and often misunderstand each other. This creates a tension between the couple that can be creative or divisive. It all depends on how well the partners listen and share with each other.
It is critical to understand the dynamic of your development over time and how it affects your partnering. You change in various unexpected ways. Secondly, you need skills to listen to each other more deeply than ever and understand the critical new needs that come to the surface.