*Marriage: Self-Care and Remembering the Good Stuff
Are you finding yourself irritated with your spouse lately? Are you having problems remembering why you love this person – or why you even got married in the first place? You are not alone!
Ramona consulted with me because this is exactly what was happening in her marriage.
“When Randy and I first got together, we had a wonderful time with each other. We could talk about anything. We fell passionately in love, but now I can’t even remember what I love about him.”
“Ramona, how long have you been married and how long has this been going on in your marriage?”
We have been married 7 years. We have two children. Our daughter is 5 and our son is 3. I think this has been more or less going on since our daughter was born.”
“How do you see Randy as a father?”
“He is a very good father. And he is a very loving husband. I just don’t get why I’m feeling this way.”
“Ramona, what do you find yourself focusing on regarding Randy? What do you get irritated about?”
“Oh, I get irritated when he is feeling insecure about work, or when he is tired and needy with me, or when he is complaining about something.”
“Ramona, right now I’d like you to focus on what is wonderful about Randy. Put aside what you don’t like and just focus on what you do like. I’d like to hear what is wonderful about Randy.”
“Randy is a very good person. He is so kind and caring. He would do anything for me and for the kids. He is very smart and is an extremely talented musician and composer. Even though sometimes he is insecure about it, he really loves his work and is successful at it. He has a great sense of humor. And he takes good care of himself physically, which I really appreciate.
“You know, as I talk about him, I realize that I haven’t thought about these qualities in a long time. I have been focusing on the problems instead of his good qualities.”
“Right, and this has caused you to lose your feelings of love for him. I’m wondering if you have been focusing on the problems because there is some way you are not taking care of yourself when he is complaining or feeling needy? Is there some way you are caretaking him and giving yourself up when he is insecure or needy??
“Yes! I listen to him when I don’t what to and then I try to fix him. That’s when I get irritated. So what should I do when he is like that?”
“What would you do if you were focused on taking loving care of yourself instead of caretaking him?”
“I might just go in the other room and read a book! But wouldn’t that be selfish and unloving to him?”
“No. It is not loving to him to enable him in being needy and complaining. Your caretaking does not help him learn to take better care of his own feelings. If you lovingly disengage when he is not taking care of himself, you give him an opportunity to take responsibility for himself. It is the opposite of selfish – it is self-responsible!”
“Wow, I never looked at it in that way! So, if every time he complains or acts needy or insecure, I just walk away and do something I like to do, then I won’t feel irritated with him. I can see that if I take care of myself, it will make it much easier for me to remember what I love about him.”
Ramona emailed me a few days later that things had completely turned around in her relationship with Randy. She was delighted that she was again feeling her love for him, and she was noticing that this was even affecting her children’s behavior. They were much calmer when she was happier!