The Time I Thought My Marriage Was Ending…
I thought my marriage was ending.
We had just had an intense conflict. I know it’s cliché, but I really don’t remember what it was about, now that it’s years later. What I do remember vividly is how I felt and what I was thinking.
You see, I couldn’t imagine how we could end up in that position. We were both so seriously wounded, so clear on how the other had been the one to do wrong. Yet, when we went to share what was going on for us, we each said the exact same thing.
Can you believe it?!
I couldn’t. I couldn’t believe how we could each be in such pain and be needing the same things. Wasn’t love about sacrifice and compromise and give and take? So wasn’t the problem about who wasn’t sacrificing and who wasn’t giving and taking?
I couldn’t figure it out. If we were both giving and sacrificing, how could both of us be ending up with unfulfilled needs? I had clear visions of my relationship ending.
Envisioning the end, I began to wonder how I could move forward alone. I already felt alone, and so very hopeless.
I was lost, overwhelmed, desperately sad and painfully far away from the connection, collaboration and compassion I was looking for in my relationship.
Well, my friend, I am so happy (no joke) to report that my partnership not only weathered that storm but grew miraculously stronger. In fact, my partnership has grown in strength with every breakthrough that comes from passing through to deeper and deeper levels of care, of appreciation, of knowing, of understanding….of vulnerability.
- I began to incorporate the NVC (Nonviolent Communication) I had learned years before and had been using as a teacher in my classroom with students from the beginning.
- I began to really listen in to my own feelings and needs more fully.
- I began to understand my own triggers and stories, to become more aware of my thoughts and self-talk.
- I began to take more responsibility for my own needs for empathy, trust, connection, peace, ease, security, and safety.
Counterintuitively, it was clear that even though there were two of us in a relationship, our relationship could change by the efforts I was making within myself. It didn’t matter if my partner did anything differently!
- When I started to focus on myself, our relationship improved. When I started focusing on my partner, our relationship was strained.
- When I started to get clearer about my own self, our communication was clearer. When I expected my partner to be clear, even when I wasn’t, tension increased.
- When I was vulnerable and shared the deeper roots of my feelings and thoughts, our connection became strongly rooted. When I got defensive and reactive, our connection withered.
This was a revelation….a revelation that happened again and again with women and men I worked with when I shared the tool of NVC.
With the principles and the tool of NVC, my partner and I see that our needs were not in conflict. We could communicate about how we were feeling and what we were needing. We were able to keep conflicts from escalating and to prevent them in the first place.
You know that I am not about perfection; I am about presence. My partnership isn’t pie in the sky. It’s real. We are open, appreciative, connected and confident in our relationship. These are gifts which, strangely, I was not fully living before the I thought my marriage was ending.
I believe Mindful Communication, my combination of NVC and Mindful Self-Care, is a unique and powerful way to support partnerships and relationships of all kinds. I know that when partnerships are strengthened that families and communities are strengthened. My purpose is to cultivate peace, ease and joy on this planet, and this is one contribution I am making.
Maybe you need this to know that you are not alone and that you are going to make it through what you’re dealing with as a partner or a parent. Maybe it would be helpful someone you know.
I leave you with a quote from Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, the creator of NVC and founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication who recently passed on.
Wishing you peace, ease and joy, dear one,