My husband and I have been together for coming up on 16 years. We’ve been married for almost 7 of those. We’ve had our daughter for over six of those (if we are counting the pregnancy). When we started dating we lived in separate states (he Texas, me Washington) and that lasted for our first year. He moved up to Seattle after that and we crammed our lives together (which included two cats – mine- and a small dog – his) into a little 600 sf apartment on the edge of Capitol Hill. After a while we moved to a larger apartment that also had a gorgeous view of the Space Needle and downtown. Shortly after we married we bought a house. Had a baby. And that is when the really hard times started.
Everyone tells you that having a child changes your marriage, changes your life. No one ever tells you how. Or if they do, you don’ t listen because frankly you can’t even fathom exactly how having a kid really changes your life. Those first few years can be hard even on the most stable of couples, and let me tell you, having our girl rocked our world, in both good and not so good ways.
Those first few years were filled with a lot tears, a lot of yelling. We got to a point where divorce was screamed at each other several times a week. Sometimes it was yelled in our couple therapist’s office.
It was rocky. We did make it though. Both of us wanted to be with the other, it was non-negotiable. Yet, we were causing each other so much pain. We weren’t sure how to get out of it.
We read a lot of books. We went to marriage counseling. We discovered some serious health issues. We made hard financial choices to save our sanity and our marriage, our family.
Last night my husband and I sat in our office and had a long conversation about money. It’s one of those hot topics that both of us get defensive about.
We didn’t get defensive.
We didn’t fight.
We didn’t yell.
We had a conversation about money and it didn’t end in tears. It ended in calm, and understanding. And it lead to another hot topic: Family Pictures.
For the first four years of our daughter’s life, at least once a year we would get family portraits done. These events were always stressful for me, and while my husband would try to make them fun, I would always get pissy about how he’s making goofy faces or can’t he smile right or whatever.
I had an expectation for these photos that wasn’t realistic. And worse than that, because of my expectation being unrealistic, but still wanting it, I made everyone suffer through the process.
We didn’t get formal family photos last year. We couldn’t afford them and it breaks my heart in a million pieces that we missed a year. I told my husband last night that it was a priority for me this year. That we need to afford them. I want the photos.
He was very hesitant and it led to him telling me how not fun, how agonizing family photos are for him – how I made the process miserable. I told him I know, I’m letting it go, we’ll have fun, it’ll be great.
He didn’t believe me. He didn’t feel heard. He didn’t want to fight, so he just got quiet and turned away.
I said to him: “You don’t feel heard.”
He looked at me, relieved. Ah, I got it. I need to tell him in more detail how I know I’ve made things unpleasant and how it will be different this time. We talked and we both sunk into the knowledge of how we have changed, how our relationship has changed. How we can now feel heard and seen and acknowledged and known.
It’s been a process of three years. Three years since I walked away from my career. Three years since we started uncovering my health issues. Three years since we started putting our marriage – our family – together in a healthy, loving way.
The more I learn about attachment and mindfulness, the more I see how they are the key to approaching relationships, to approaching life. It’s a constant practice of working on myself and working on my marriage and working on my relationship with my daughter and allowing my husband the space to do the same. Practice, practice, practice.
I developed Repairing in Relationship with this in mind: Practice. Attachment. Mindfulness. Breathing in the Truth of my love for the people around me – the people who nourish me and whom I nourish.
There is still time to register for this course. I would love to share my knowledge and some of the tools I’ve acquired to deepen connection and bring those important relationships to a new level of peace, joy and nourishment.