How to see your spouse a little clearer
Had the wildest conversation with my wife last night!
She was tired, but I was talkative… That doesn’t happen with us very much — me freely communicating.
I get moody and weird to her so often that it’s not easy to share what I think. But last night was different. I don’t know if I was stoned or drunk or if I exercised and had endorphins or what, but it was magic and here’s what I saw.
Listen, if you’re married, even if your marriage is terrible right now — maybe especially if your marriage is terrible right now — you probably think about your spouse more than anything else in your life.
My wife and I struggle pretty good. We’re often missing each other in conversations, kind of not hearing each other… We end up reacting to the reactions instead of communicating with the real person in there.
We do good too! But if I’m honest (and maybe if you are too), we spend a bit more time in the “working on it” side of things than in the “enjoying it, we woke up like this” side.
But the truth is — and I believe this about her as well as me — we think more about each other in our daily lives than we do about anyone else.
When things aren’t going smooth with Mellisa, I’m thinking about her in the shower, on the walk, at lunch, everywhere. Same is probably true about you, same about your spouse.
No other thing in my life is as pervasive as how things are going with my wife. I’m constantly working the angles, trying to not be the bad guy, trying to patch things up, trying to reach out from my isolation and moodiness… When I’m seeing a little clearer.
And when I’m cloudy as shit, not seeing clearly, I get moody and kind of locked away inside myself. I spend thoughts trying to hide, trying to isolate, trying to get a little more of “my way” in my life. Which, of course, makes things feel real bad for Mellisa, causing her to react… And that reaction causes me to react… And react… And react… And react…
We call this “the cycle.” We have an unbelievably amazing therapist who’s been on this path with us for a little over a year. She helped us wake up to this.
But anyways, as I was sitting in bed last night, talkative as fuck, keeping my poor wife up on Mother’s Day, I was able to put into words what I’ve thought for a long time.
I can picture myself with two planes. One: my commitment. The other: my behavior and mood in any particular moment.
My commitment is a straight line, constant. My mood in any moment is more like a wave, sometimes close to the commitment, sometimes veering off by a ways.
Listen, I am so deeply committed to my wife. And I can tell, I can see so clearly, she’s just as deeply committed to me. But all of our day to day communication happens at the mood/moment level…. And everything would be different if we got better at trusting the commitment in one another and addressing that in each other more often.
This is our life — we’re spending it together. That’s our choice. This is how we’ll spend so many hours, almost all of the hours in our life, together. And we are the biggest pieces in each others’ lives. And yet we fight like we’re going away sometime, we fight for ourselves like we’re not seen by the other, like there’s no room for me in the us. And it feels like that a lot…
But if we can have just a little awareness, just a little mindfulness about which part of us we’re relating to — the current moment or the deep commitment — we can find each other, we can get off the surface and inside each other.
Or we keep reacting to reactions, get blind in the cycle, miss out on each other, hope it gets better in a little while.
I don’t know if this is helpful to you, but it was helpful for us to sit and talk about together. It feels good for my wife to know how much I think about her, how deeply her feelings impact me, how much of my life is spent trying to relate well to her. It’s work and there’s fear and we’re so good at playing on each other’s insecurities and weaknesses, but there’s another side and it’s lovely. It’s teamwork, it’s together, it’s presence, it’s peace and intimacy, it’s quiet and strong. And if you’re anything like me, you want so much more of that and so much less of that other shit.
You are a dynamic creature. You live and move and change and grow and have curiosities and interests and passions and fears and so many stories and experiences it’s hard to tell who you are from moment to moment. Same is true about me. Same about your partner. But I’ll bet when you look close you’ll be able to see your own deep commitment to your partner; and his/her commitment to you as well. Let’s get rich in that stuff, let’s trust each other there more, let’s be vulnerable to each other there more. It impacts more moments in our lives than any other relationship.
But I’ll be goddam’ed if this ain’t some real work, y’all. Break a leg, good luck, Godspeed.