Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Hitch in Your Get-Along

Wow, you think, you are a marital diva. You've weathered the storm. For months now, you and your dear hubby have been chugging along, getting along. All is well.

Then it hits--the hitch in your get-along.

Sure, months ago some well meaning mentor may have warned you this was inevitable, but you were unprepared. Surely you and he have solved every last marital problem?


So, before despairing and thinking, "Oh woe! Oh weep! Oh moan!" Think again. Did you forget something? You are married to a human, and worse! You are both of the same species. Neither one of you has any hope of getting it right every single time.

Here's a few things to do while you are weathering the glitch:
1. Don't dredge the past
2. Don't despair
3. Don't lose your head, use your head
1. Don't dredge the past
    Old habits are hard to overcome. If he's slipped up or you've slipped up, can you give yourself the common decency of remembering that learning and changing is a process? A slip up can be just that. If it isn't something serious, like an affair or a return to an addiction, a relapse into bad behavior is probably just a momentary weakness and not an indication of a refusal to love, honor and cherish.

2. Don't despair
    If you can manage #1 and if you can remember to pray, this one might not be as hard as it sounds. Despair is an emotion: a profoundly negative and unhelpful one. Although it is incredibly hard not to let emotions get control of you and your mental life, it may help to consider that if you are feeling despair, you are most likely not seeing things very clearly. Also, you must remember that an emotion is not the most important element of your reaction, as much as that emotion wants you to think it is the boss. Sometimes you just have to ignore yourself and get going. Despair is not an emotion with a divine source, it is a sinister, undermining, weakening emotion that you are better off not entertaining. If you find yourself having despairing thoughts, say, "I know better than this. I really do" and then allow yourself or even force yourself to think of something else. You've got reason for a reason. Use it when your emotions are not helping.

3. Don't lose your head, use your head
    Well, fine and dandy. Maybe he has treated you this way before and maybe you really are thinking he is hopeless and this is a horrible way to live and the usual interior rumblings of an unhappy woman (let us do keep these types of thoughts to ourselves now shall we?) Does that really mean you now have free reign to behave badly in return? Can you let go and be a banshee because he's been a jerk? Are you still 9 years old and think you can walk away from responsibility for your own actions with a "Well, he started it!" attitude? Do you recognize a rhetorical question when you see one? Or five? Or seven?

The sweetest revenge is sweetness. If he's hunkering down to jerkiness, respond with kindness, smile sweetly and think, "Oh yeah? I'm being a much better person than you!" Pretend you don't notice and carry on as if you were the nicest gal ever. Pretty soon, he'll come around. I've never had this one fail me. The trick is to not have one scintilla of sarcasm in your manner, not a dollop of ill will, or even a whiff of irritation. Consider it an exercise of wills. Yours versus yours. Just trust me on this one, he'll be dazzled.

Meanwhile, back at the split-level ranch house, can you remember that history repeating itself has a good side? Yes, you've been here before and you are sick and tired of the same old stuff coming up again. You hate feeling this way and you never ever thought you would have to again. Yeah, that sucks. But, guess what? You guys felt like this and got over it once before. Or two times. Or maybe even half a dozen times before. You guys can get over this glitch because you've gotten over glitches before. It's a habit now.

Now that's worth something.

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