You’re Not the Boss of Me:
Part 3: Spouses/Partners
Well, here we go again and you are joining late in the game. Your partner comes to you with history and a well-formed sense of self, whether fully accurate or not. We all have our cover. It helps us cope. As the adult partner, you are coming in late to the game. First three quarters done. The coaching has been put in place and the plays well learned. And, if the play does not work… tis easy to blame the other guy. And boy, does that come in marriage too. The roles were set and had played themselves over and over even if with horrid results.
I must say I was lucky. My husband was a psychiatrist… Harvard trained so mighty well analyzed. (He put me to shame and I know myself pretty well, although I still get tripped up.) So, we talked things to death… just ask our kids.
Communication is vital. You got to have patience; love isn’t just a sensation. Understand it.
You may not change the structure of the person or personality, but you can “get it” and work with it and accommodate to it. Now, this takes a willing partner who should want to hear your view and needs (often again played with those old familiar melodies.) It is a two-person dance. You come with your baggage too. And you need that same listening, hearing (which is so different) and accommodation as well.
Pick your time for discussions and not in the heat of the moment. Set a time and be on the same side to problem solve… tis better to join together to handle a problem and find a solution. Tis less lonely and tightens the team.
Some situations are easier for couples to navigate. For example, I will never like anchovies so Scott orders Caesar salad for me without them. And he likes classical guitar so i have absorbed (and learned to appreciate) Segovia. So, Caesar salad with those trolls and runs and vibrations. And, then we clear the table… I wash, he dries.
But, there is the big stuff:
Your mother-in-law expects you for dinner every Sunday. You may even forego church, but certainly not Sunday dinner. Your spouse expects the Thursday boys/girls night out, which may include excessive drinking and the inclusion of playful sexual teasers or games. The return is later and later. A search into emails provides more.
Why is your spouse so connected to that routine or habit or tradition? What does it represent, and what does it mean if your spouse breaks the plan?
While you want to create your own family routines and patterns, which is appropriate, there are some reasons that is scary. It is a betrayal of some patterns and some loyalties to that original family.
Ask and listen and find a solution which meets your partner’s needs and your own. Ask, listen, do not interrupt, and take it in. Try to see it not as “me versus you” but as “us” working to solve a problem.
Trust runs deep and betrayal runs deeper. Suspicion has a basis and it asks you to look into the other aspects of the relationship. This may have started with a family pattern but it builds and develops based on other aspects of character and the dynamics within the relationship. Is it salvageable? It is worth the exploration to save you from your own missteps and from a repeat stumble. Is your spouse wanting to reconnect? Can they own the betrayal and then work to re-establish the relationship, the rapport, the trust (a long haul)? Do you want to put in the effort and save what you used to have?
Therapy works, but find the right person. The first issue is the betrayal. Then, what are the other injuries and the issues? Safety, time, commitment. It is looking outward with a willingness to hear and inward with a willingness to learn and then decide.