It’s been a bit since I’ve blogged, I guess. I’m just going to jump right in and tell you a little bit about what’s been going on these past few months because I don’t know how to small talk my way into it. You all know that life has been full of changes for our family in the past few months. Between leaving my teaching job to running my own startup company to the loss of my Grandmother to the illness of Chris’s dad… it’s been tough on me. Actually, it’s been tough on Chris and me. So tough, in fact, that for a few months now, we have been seeing a marriage counselor.
Since my blog covers just about all parts of our family life, it is weird to not share things with you all. But over the past ten years I have been blogging, Chris and I have followed two basic principles of blogging about our relationship. First, I never post anything on here about the two of us that he doesn’t read and approve first. Second, I typically don’t share about fights or issues until after they have been resolved. This is for a few reasons, actually. For one thing, it can be really awkward in our real lives to run into friends who read my blog and know that we are in the middle of something. It makes it really uncomfortable for both Chris and I. We aren’t really sure who or our real life friends read my blog and it can be weird for them and for us. Another reason we don’t share until it has been resolved is to keep our problem solving in a quiet vacuum. As much as I love my imaginary friends, when you are in the middle of something hard, it can be really overwhelming and distracting to have hundreds of different opinions coming at you on how to solve a problem. I love advice, but marriage is very personal and I like to keep that part between Chris and me.
However, while we were going through counseling, I continued to write about it. I just didn’t publish anything. Until now. Over the next few days, I’m going to share our journey into marriage counseling. I’ll share about why we went, what it was like, and how it changed us. As with any type of therapy, change and progress are ongoing and continue to be in our marriage, too, but Chris and I are finally on a path to a much better place and have learned some new communication strategies to help us avoid the silence we have had for the past few months. More than that, though, I’ve learned a lot about myself and about my own harmful coping mechanisms for stress. It has been an eye opening experience for both of us.
I guess I should start with how we ended up in marriage counseling to begin with. Honestly, I don’t really know how it happened or what was really wrong. It was Chris that suggested it and in the beginning I was adamantly against it. I didn’t think there was anything wrong. I thought we were just struggling through a rough time for our family in general, not necessarily for Chris and I. I knew that we weren’t really connecting anymore and hadn’t for a while, but I just kind of assumed that was pretty normal. And maybe it is. But thank God I am married to a man who understands that our relationship has never been normal. We have always been above and beyond happy in our marriage and so when we settled down to the status quo level, he spoke up and said that he was unhappy.
You should know that there had been a fair amount of anger in our marriage for the past six months. We were angry at the world, we were angry at God, we were angry at each other. We were struggling and for the first time in our 18-year relationship, we turned ON each other instead of TO each other. There was anger and frustration about running our company. There was a lot of anger and frustration around how Chris’s dad’s illness effected our family life. There was anger and frustration around our work schedules and shifting priorities. And while not all of that was because of each other, we took it out on each other.
Although, after a few months of marriage counseling, I can tell you that most of that anger was coming from me.
I have not been happy working with ClassMax. That’s not to say that I won’t GET happy about it, but it hasn’t been an easy transition for me. It has been a shift in my career path, shift in my routine, shift in time management, shift in work/life balance and for someone who doesn’t handle change well, it has been overwhelming to the point that I have been really unhappy. But, as my family will tell you, my unhappiness often comes out as just straight anger. My fuse shortens, my temper heightens, and my patience weakens. And I turned all of that anger towards Chris. To the point that even when he suggested marriage counseling, I got angry. When I slowed down and examined where that particular piece of anger was coming from, I realized it came from fear. How bad was my marriage that Chris wanted to see a counselor?! Was he about to leave me?! How could I not have known?!
The answer to this question is that, no. Chris was never about to leave. Marriage counseling for us was not about divorce – ever. It was about acknowledging that we were not making each other happy and that our stress levels were so high that we had sort of lost the ability and the time required to make healthy changes in our relationship. We needed a mediator. Someone to talk us through this new phase in our marriage when we had suddenly become coworkers, as well as spouses. We needed someone to teach us how to separate our professional lives from our home lives, when our professional lives were built inside our home life. We just needed some help. And, for us, we found that help in the form of a marriage counselor.
Tomorrow, I will share my first of four blog posts I wrote as we went through counseling. Looking back and reading it now, I can so clearly see all the anger I was dealing with, but at the time I was completely oblivious to it. Isn’t that funny when that happens? Like, you think you are doing one thing and then you look back and realize you were doing something completely different? One time when I was pregnant with Bean, I remember saying to my mom, “I really am carrying the weight all in my stomach!” And I look back at pictures and WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?! I was huge from ANY angle! And so clearly! But sometimes we choose to see what we want to see instead of what is truly there. Like thinking I’m doing a pretty decent job of transitioning into this new phase of my life, only to look around and realize that I have already dropped all the balls and now I’m just standing there moving my empty hands in the air.
Be kind as you read these posts this week. If I have learned anything through counseling its that there is no blame. Or, actually, maybe I’ve learned there’s just enough blame to go around and so it all cancels each other out in the end anyway. Lastly, I hope these posts speak to you, if you are in the same place Chris and I found ourselves. I hope they give you the courage to say to your spouse or partner, “I’m not happy, but I think we can change that…” And, more than all of that, I hope they show that marriage is messy and takes a lot of work AND THAT’S OKAY. Because whether you are in the trenches or the weeds or whatever dark place you want to call it, at least you are there together.
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