I was at an event the other night, and ended up spending some time at the bar with a handful of women a few years older than I talking divorce. One was divorced already, another still married, happily I presume, and a third contemplating. She, at least it occurred so to me, was not complete with what was. There was a spark not yet extinguished.
And I found myself thinking of Mr. Rohn's definition of failure: “a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.” The accumulated result, disaster. And this met with Mr. Peterson's Rule 5 “Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them,” and an old saw of my mother's “if people worked as hard on their marriages as they do on their divorces, we'd have a lot fewer of them.”
And my heart went out to this woman, and I got to thinking how it must be. And I think I can see how it can be so damned hard. And the same advice came up “Do not let your husband be the kind of person that would make you dislike him.” And I wonder if that's not what happened here. She got married a little later in life, so they both had their ways, and probably had to give up a little something to accommodate the other. But maybe it was more than she bargained for, and maybe once she'd given it away, she didn't know how to call it back.
And maybe it's easier to say “I don't know what happened; He's different; He's changed,” and walk away than to say “I've let him become something I don't like,” and now I need to take responsibility for that and walk it back.
And it might be he's become a dick, really, but it's possible it happened on her watch, and that she does have something to say about it, and I think that's probably what gnaws, because you think maybe there was that moment that I could have shifted things a different way, and I didn't, and now it's all fucked (excuse the language).
Maybe an example might illustrate the point. She's cooked. She has made it a little special, or a meal he really likes, and he's late, and he doesn't say thank you, or worse, doesn't even notice. And it's just a little barb, but it sticks, and worse maybe, she thought to say something, but didn't. “It was small, and he's so good, I've waited too long for this. And he probably had a rough day.” And maybe she asked “Rough Day,” and he said “Nah. It was alright.”
And she wonders why. And she doesn't say, “I need you to notice. I really need a thank you, today.” And having let it go once, it's easier to let it go again, or to stop trying, and to wonder “Is this really the type of person I've married, thoughtless, cold, self-involved?” And she takes a step back, and the crack it widens. And he doesn't know why, but he ends up doing the same to her. And maybe he tries to do something a little kind, or generous, and she doesn't see it, because she's stuck in her thought about him, and he wonders what happened to that woman who was so “excited and alive,” and then a little dies in him.
And it sucks because you wonder if it couldn't have been different, and what's worse, maybe you see you had something to do with it, but don't know how to go back there now.
And I don't know, I caught a glimpse, but I don't want to let her let that die yet. It might be a world away from what I'm making up here, but maybe there's something here too.
I want her to go up and say to him:
“You know I've been thinking we should split, and then I thought some more, and I need you to hear me out for a moment. Please give me that moment. I know what I've got to say might hurt, but please hear it to the end, and then take a little time to be with it before you respond.
“You see, I was wondering how you've become so repulsive to me, and I thought some more, and I'm wondering if it wasn't me that let you become something that I disliked. And it really hurts because I know we really had something, and we were going somewhere, but now it feels like we're not.
“So here's the thing: I don't know if we can make this work, but I'm not ready to let this go. But I need you to take this on with me.
“I'm willing to be great with you, but I need you to take on being great with me. And there are like a thousand things I've stepped over, a thousand times I've held back, and bit my tongue, and now all that's there is one silent scream.
“So I need to let that out, and I need to be straight with you, and not let you be someone I wouldn't like to be with, but I don't have much practice here; so I know I might come off petty at moments, or dramatic, or morose, or angry, but I've got to let it out.
“And I ask you to be with it. To hear what I have to say, and get it, and maybe adjust appropriately, but at least get it.
“And you know what, I want to invite you to share how I occur for you too. I'm sure I've missed and messed up a few things myself, and maybe a lot of them.
“But we don't need hell, and heck, maybe we've got a chance at heaven, but it'll take something, but I'm willing to give it a shot. Life's too short not to love and cry and laugh a little.
“I saw you once as the person I could do that with, for the rest of my life. And I let that go off the rails, but I think, if you want it to, if you're willing to commit to it, we can get that back, or forward.
“Maybe it will never be what it was exactly, but maybe it can be so much more.”
And maybe I'm just a hopeless romantic and I see possibilities others don't, but maybe there's also reason to hang in, if you're willing to take on the fight. Even Dr. Carl Rogers, the legendary psychologist and therapist, had a “patch of nine or ten years when things were awful.”
And here's another, Richard Paul Evans, who stood for his marriage, and I'm sure that at times it took all of his effort, but sometimes that's just what it takes.
And it's a pity to give up without trying, and I know you've tried, but maybe you haven't tried in the right way. To borrow from Jim Rohn again, “How long would you want your child to keep trying until he can walk, or read?”
You'd want him to keep going until…
You could give up, or this could be a speed bump, or it could be that moment of disgust when you turn your life around, but how you turn it is up to you. You could divorce, but maybe you could also turn around the relationship you've already got. And it might take you to be someone you haven't been until now, but why not? You could set yourself and your marriage on a trajectory you've never had, a year, a decade, the rest of your life, of love and passion and miracles.