I am sure you never thought we would or could get to Stage 3 in the Divorce Life-Cycle. You must have thought that after the Irritation and Contemplation stages we would never be able to think about resuscitating a relationship that has caused great distress in recent weeks, months, and years.
It takes a lot of work and if you can, honestly, say that you are at this stage then you have put some work in. You have had to deal with the mortality of your marriage, your role, your fears, and the unknown and often maddening wonderment about your spouses thoughts and feelings.
Not an easy voyage, but possibly the very thing you and your marriage needed. A Spring cleaning if you may. But….and this is a big one…if you are like most of us–and gauging from the fact you are reading this I will go out on a limb and say you are human–then you quite possibly side-stepped the first two stages in the name of Uncle Denial and are artificially entering the Irrigation stage thinking that if you ignore the problems they will just go away.
The result? You run the risk of playing house in a world thirsting for reality if growth is at all possible. As a colleague of mine says, “A band-aid is a band-aid is a band-aid…it ain’t gonna fix the deeper problem.”
And that can be a problem if you are any ole’ man or a Normal Male because we have been raised to fixers of problems. Men of all backgrounds have been taught that to have value we need to be able to fix things. Guys, the problem–fixing a marriage takes a lot more than a socket wrench to stop a leak.It is going to take hard work, open communication, sharing in safe environments, and personal ownership of your part.
So why is it so difficult to properly Irrigate your marriage? Why is it so hard to sit down and evaluate without judgment? Because we are all afraid that if we truly examine or autopsy our marriage we will find residue from our family of origin, past relationships, and a mirror that seems to be coming closer and closer to showing you…you.
Who on earth wants to open the proverbial Pandora’s Box? Who wants to think about why they treat their spouse poorly and its connections to other events and people? Who wants to think about how badly they have emotionally hurt the one the professed love to not so long ago? No one does! Nobody with a sensible approach to life wants to think about all of these horrible possibilities. What we want is to think about tomorrow in terms of yesterday. We want to act and react as if the endorphins are skyrocketing towards our spouse in a way that will cure all past ills and propel happiness into the cosmos for eternity. Irrigation can and should be tempered. It should be approached with a feedback loop that demonstrates to your spouse that you think of them when making decisions about the relationship. And, it should be understood by BOTH parties that nourishing your marriage is what you are attempting and planning to do. Too many, desperate, adults commence Irrigation plans without asking or gauging the interest of the other party.
Your marriage arrived at this place for a reason and traveling at the same speed to the same locales in life probably hasn’t been common place so why would fixing it be any different. Patience can be fleeting during lean times and marriage is no different. If you rush the “fixing” of your marriage without having your partner on board will only perpetuate your tangled communication patterns. Sit down. Breathe. Realize that if you are going to read a self-help book together you should both WANT to.
Bringing back your marriage will be the hardest thing you will ever do in this lifetime. You have to prepare yourself for the journey with the knowledge that if you’re a successful Sailor, you will cross the horizon to find a new land and relationship different and more palatable to the present you…not on the hopes and dreams of the past you.
Sometimes the odds are with us and sometimes they are against us, but what we do know is that if we make an honest effort to Irrigate our marriage we can rest our head at night in peace…whether we remain with our spouse or move on to new adventures. Check back tomorrow to continue on the Divorce Life-Cycle.