On Tuesday night I shared how my marriage is really messed up, how I was feeling completely hopeless, and what happened to completely change my perspective.
On Wednesday night I shared how I did something different, and how for the first time in many, many, many months, my husband and I finally had a good night.
If you’re wondering how our appointment with the therapist went today, that will be the final installment of the story.
Consider this Part III of the Not Your Average Marriage Miniseries.
For those of you who need instant gratification, here are the cliff notes:
Our session began with my husband and I happily entering our very surprised therapist’s office.
And it ended with me storming out of the building.
We got into a fight about thirty minutes into therapy, and I was so angry that I left.
Like I got up off the couch, left my husband and therapist in the room, and flew out of the office, the building, and the parking lot as quickly as I could.
I WAS SO ANGRY.
I felt extremely misunderstood.
HOLY COW DID I FEEL MISUNDERSTOOD.
And massively unappreciated.
I know we have a really really really REALLY long way to go.
I am not naive enough to think that one good night would solve all of our problems.
Or any of them, really.
This isn’t my first time at the marriage rodeo. There is a lot of work to be done.
And as soon as we started talking about money, I knew we were playing with fire.
Money is our biggest source of conflict.
Actually that’s not true.
Communication is our biggest source of conflict.
Communicating about money is nearly impossible for us.
So attempting to discuss anything having to do with money in the first 48 hours of just speaking to each other again was, um….
Maybe stupid isn’t the best word.
Maybe ambitious would be better.
We are not ready to discuss and hot button topics.
We shoulda just stuck to talking about what was going really well.
Or baby goats.
So I felt completely attacked and misrepresented and blamed and judged and shamed, and I could feel the emotions coming.
ALL THE EMOTIONS.
You know when you forget about the pasta on the stove and it goes from bubbling up very close to the top of the pot to just completely overflowing everywhere — all over the stove — in like .2 seconds?
That’s me in my marriage.
There is not much time between the lots of bubbles and the volcano-esque overflow of the pasta water.
In the last few years I have worked really hard to keep the water in the pot. I know when the bubbles are getting very close to the edge.
There has been no overflow in a long, long time.
But in order to avoid that, I have to remove myself from the situation.
Which is what happened today.
After I left the office, I had to run a few errands, and I spent the entire time I was in the car fuming.
My husband was not getting it.
He would never get it.
I was upset, but mostly I was hurt.
Which is what it really comes down to.
He said some things which hurt me so deeply.
And he did not see how they were hurtful.
To be so wounded by someone else’s words and for them to have no idea what you are even talking about is extremely frustrating.
Hopelessness was returning.
Fear that he would never get it and that as long as I remain in this marriage, I will never be understood. Ever.
To think that I will never be truly heard in my marriage and by my husband is terrifying to me.
And I obsessed over this for a quite a while this morning.
And then I thought about Number 7.
I thought about the turkeys and the picture in front of the Christmas tree and I thought, Nope. You don’t get to quit already.
And then I remembered what Bryan Stevenson said on that Oprah podcast.
Mercy is like a mirror. I think mercy is what you give to others with the hope that it will come back to you. It’s what you give to people who don’t deserve it. It’s what you give to people who haven’t asked for it.
And then I thought about that pot of pasta.
Boiling over used to be a habit for me.
In the early years of our marriage, when things got to the boiling point, I would explode.
I would yell and scream and sometimes throw things.
It was an automatic reaction.
I had to work very hard to change that.
It has taken tremendous amounts of self-control and self-awareness and energy and WORK to change that habit.
And the change has been to remove myself from the situation before I can become out of control.
And that’s certainly better than than going ballistic.
By the way, I’m only talking about me here.
I don’t believe this is all on me.
My husband is absolutely just as responsible for our troubles as I am.
But the difference is that I cannot control what my husband does.
I can’t force him to act differently.
I can’t make him acknowledge his part in any of this.
The only thing I can do is take care of my stuff.
by taking care of my stuff, it will encourage him — either consciously or subconsciously — to examine what he is bringing to the dysfunction table.
Normally when we get to this point where I have to physically leave the room my husband is in, we will go into standoff mode. Silence. Complete avoidance.
This can last anywhere from hours to days to weeks to months.
This is our habit.
The only way things will change is if we change our habits.
I’d love for my husband to change his habits, but again, the only person I have control over is MOI.
So, I made a decision right there in the car.
I was going to call my husband, I was going to talk to him, and hopefully we’d get back on track.
I called him.
I attempted to communicate my feelings effectively.
He hung up on me.
And I was back to square one, feeling misunderstood, invalidated, and most of all, hurt.
I started a new pity party for a while, and then I thought about something I often encourage parents to do with their kids.
I have a decent sense of humor.
I’m told I’m funny.
But in my marriage, more often than not, I feel cranky and angry and bitchy.
That’s not the wife or mother or human being I want to be.
So, I switched gears.
In fact, I did a complete 180.
If I want to effect change in my marriage, then I need to do something(s) differently. Because what I’m doing now ain’t working.
I need to develop some new habits when my husband and I are not effectively communicating.
Does my husband also have work to do?
But I can’t control that. I can only control me.
And perhaps by taking ownership of my stuff, he will eventually take ownership of his.
If not, I’ll certainly be growing and improving as a human being in the process, and so for that I should be grateful.
Whatever the outcome, I will be a stronger, more evolved and more compassionate person a week, a month, a year from now.
But up until thirty minutes into our therapy session, we had been doing so well. We were moving forward. We were making progress!
I WAS NOT GOING TO GO IN REVERSE, DAMMIT.
So I texted my husband.
He didn’t reply.
I sent him a series of texts that were so funny I was laughing out loud.
Did he think they were funny?
I don’t know. I didn’t ask him.
But they got him to finally pick up the phone.
And they sure did change my mindset.
I went from fuming to feeling hopeful. Just by making the conscious decision to change my attitude.
And I was able to tell my husband that I loved him, to apologize, and to make it clear that I wanted to keep moving forward.
He said he wanted to do the same.
You know, they say there are no bad students, only bad teachers.
There are no bad swimmers. Only bad coaches.
There are no bad teams. Only bad leaders.
If I want to see change in this marriage, if I want to improve communication, if I want to really be heard and understood and it’s not happening now, then it’s on me to communicate more effectively.
I so quickly go straight to my husband and point the finger at him.
That’s another habit, I guess.
So that’s what I’m focusing on.
Not on what my husband isn’t getting.
But on what I’m not giving.
Being a grown up is hard f*&%ing work.
But no matter what the outcome is, I’m finally ready to tackle this aspect of the job.
Andrea Caffyn says
Good for you!
OMG! Are you married to my husband?!?!
Sending good vibes your way!
Margaret Redman says
Still praying for you, hoping for you, sending love and gratitude to you.
I believe that if you want to be heard, you have to listen too. Obviously whatever he said, or was talking, about upset you. But if he spoke those words, he must be feeling them. You don’t have to agree with what he said, but you do need to listen. The more you get mad at his feelings, the quicker he will shut down and stop speaking them again, which leads back to square one. Since your main martial problem is communication, and you’re so good with words, maybe if you sat and wrote down all the reasons you disagree about what was said, it would help. Give it to him. Let him read it and respond, again on paper. Keep writing back and forth to each other, and agree to not verbally argue over what is said on paper. I believe you and one of your kids did a sort of journal like this for awhile. I wish you both nothing but the best.
I will add that I think your headed in the right direction and as a fellow stubborn-as-all-hell woman, I know it took so much for you to call him and text him today especially after he hung up on you bc nothing makes me more mad! So kudos to you for that!
Wishing you all well!
Wow…marriage is hard work. I agree! But….who said marriage with best friend is a smooth ride? No one! I can attest to that experience (without any therapists or anything)…when we get mad…we won’t talk. But we still have a habit of turning to texting. And we text to each other even if we are in same house. Without any spoken languages. It always helps.
By the way, I think, no, I truly think you will have to start looking at working with financial specialist. Like Ramsey and his 7 steps? His financial goals for families? They offer specialists to work with couples and finances. It sounds like money has been in the way of your marriage life…isn’t it? Just saying based on reading your blogs for years. Believe me, money discussions are always difficult and never easy to resolve. But you both need to get on same page on how money need to be handled or marriage is over. I’m saying this to be blunt. Perhaps find a financial specialist and see how that goes? You never know.
Jennifer Barnard says
Damn girl. God bless ya for opening this up to so many. I love how candid and raw and honest you are. I feel you as I read your words. I didn’t see any of your funny texts to your husband, but I laughed anyway. I don’t know what he said that cut you so deeply in the therapist’s office, but I was pissed anyway. That’s good writing for sure.
You are on a journey of self awareness and looking very hard for a way to soften your heart and improve your marriage, your family, your life. And you express that journey to a bunch of strangers in a way we can all relate to. I am in awe of your guts and your determination to be a better person. Thank you so much for sharing your angst and your hope with us.
My marriage is over. I’ve been divorced for nearly 3 years. It is taking a very long time to stop being angry. We have kiddos, though, so I must take the high road whenever I can muster it up. At first it was easy I think because I felt so guilty about wrecking my kids’ childhoods. Then it got really hard because my ex is bitter and difficult and continues to badmouth me to my children. Now it’s getting easier again because I am growing and improving my thought processes and letting go of anger. I hope that continues (there’s that word – hope). It might not (the ex is still bitter and difficult). But it might (his bitterness is on him now). Being an adult is f#@king hard. I feel ya, sweetie.
For all it’s worth, you have all kinds of support in your fan base. I know your followers mean a lot to you. You wouldn’t share as you do if we didn’t hold a a place in your heart. So feel our hope for you as you navigate this very rough bit of the journey. However things unfold and evolve for you and your husband, we care and we’ll be here to listen should you continue to share. We’ll offer our support in our own ways.
Hang in there, girl. This is not your average bullshit that you’re dealing with right now. It’s big and ugly and scary and you can handle it. Every season is temporary. Dark days are common, but light always follows. Take care. 🤗
PS: I am in love with #7. She really did know exactly what she was doing and it’s precious. Keep those damn turkeys no matter what. 🦃🦃
^THIS^ Everything Jennifer said! I could not have written it as eloquently as she did lol. Susie, with your good character, honesty, and self awareness that you’ve shared with us, I KNOW that you and your family WILL be in a better place. Wishing you the best!
Jenny also says
I’m surprised and confused by the amount of pride you’re taking in not “boiling over.” I don’t rhunj fleeing the conversation (without the ability to return) any more productive, or healthy than screaming like a maniac. Believe me, I know it’s so HARD! But not being reactive (including not running away), not getting flooded, and hanging in there to deal with the issue (especially in the therapists office!) is what you should be striving for. Not running away.
Long time reader here who just stopped in after a year plus of not following you to see if you ended up getting a divorce. From my, somewhat removed perspective, this is all new day, same shit.