I met a group of men in Vegas three days ago, and a comment they made when they asked what I did for work has been haunting me ever since...
When they found out that I help people with their dating and relationship dynamics, they said, "We need you. Our wives hate us."
Our wives hate us.
I'm quite certain none of us marries someone with the intent to hate them, so how do we get there?
I had met the one of the four guys who wasn't married, and was then introduced to his colleagues as they were all in town together for a work conference. One of the four men was dealing with infidelity and attempting to rebuild his marriage. Another of their colleagues had been sleeping all day because his marriage was in the midst of unraveling, also due to infidelity.
I couldn't help but wonder what was going on here. It seemed heightened, but also reflects estimated rates of infidelity.
I'm writing about it now because the flip side of extraordinary love is dealing with heartbreak and devastation. These are some of the things that put our love, trust, and relationships to hell and back. I'd argue that knowing how to navigate this emotional terrain could be the difference between saving a marriage and having a marriage that never recovers.
Now I have just as many questions as you do when it comes to the course of action to take, but I will say this: I'm willing to talk about this because I personally believe that part of why marriages struggle is the shame and hiding associated with thoughts, behaviors, and feelings we're not proud of.
I want to set aside pride, ego, and keeping up appearances for the next several minutes. We're going to go into observation mode because it's the only way to see such an emotionally charged experience with any sort of clarity.
Bare with me...I realize I'm taking an incredibly complex issue and exploring it in a short discussion, but I want to maximize our time here by getting down to the heart of the issue as quickly as we can. I believe in learning as quickly as possible, so we can bounce back before getting stuck much too deep. So, let's go, shall we?
Here are nine questions to ask in the midst of a relationship conflict:
- What is at stake?
- What do I need?
- What does my partner need?
- Are we sorry?
- Are we willing to change?
- Are we willing to forgive?
- Do I still love you?
- How do we rebuild trust and respect?
- Do we want to rebuild?
*Upon writing these questions, I've decided I'll elaborate on what each of them entails on my next blog, so stay tuned for part ii
If at the end of the day this is the person I want to share a life with, and him/her with me, then there are compromises, negotiations, mistakes, apologies, and forgiveness that will come along with it. Knowing this, and being honest with ourselves about it at least prepares us to anticipate how to effectively deal with conflict. If we have no idea it's out there, and do not see it coming, there's no way we'll have the tools, let alone have them accessible, when we need them most.
Extraordinary love is a continual process to expand the expression of our heart, and to seek to learn, love, and understand, rather than to destroy. By acknowledging your behavior, feeling you feelings, and getting familiar with navigating them, you're not only becoming more self-aware, but you're also building resilience that will come to prove beneficial as you tackle life's problems.
We're here to love each other, and heal the hate. That's my purpose of being here anyway...because I don't think hate and relationships are the expression of our greatest work. We can do better. Let's be better together.