Hi folks! I would like to introduce you to a wonderful and vibrant organization called Chat, Chew, and Chocolate. It is an award winning company that helps busy women lead a lifestyle that is filled with balance and fun. I was honored when CEO Dena Patton asked me to write a monthly column on marriage for their website. Each month I will be presenting a new author who will share wisdom about different aspects of marriage.
Here’s a sneak preview!
Improve Your Marriage by Letting Go of Myths
Can we talk? Can we sit down and pour a cup of coffee, rich and dark with an aroma that fills the kitchen, and agree to get real about marriage while we pass the creamer back and forth? Any of us who have been married a while knows that these can be some of the most fruitful therapy sessions. Girlfriends sharing, brave and deep. You tell me your joys and pains and I’ll match you, even one up you if I can. We’ll test the waters of our trust by first sharing the moments that make love grand, and then we’ll venture through the awkward silence that will surely follow the first mention of pain, the first acknowledgment that marriage is sometimes lonely and unpredictable.
I am of the ilk that there are no real marriage experts. All of us are searching. Oh sure, there may be learned people out there that can help us become better communicators, help us understand ours and our mate’s personality types, help us move from inaction to action in unexpected circumstances that have caused us to stand still. But no one is an expert in your marriage except for you and your spouse. The two of you are unique in every way and the dynamics of your partnership, where one of you ends and the other begins, can only be known by you.
Though I am not unrealistic and understand that some unions must end for the health and well being of a couple, I do believe in marriage overall. It is a sacred vow, even though this promise to honor and love a person through thick and thin is proclaimed when we have no concept of what “thin” is going to look like as the years unfold. Thin can get to a sheet of ice, translucent parchment.
There is plenty of literature out there to defend the life altering decision to end a marriage. But sometimes, we don’t want it to end, not really. We don’t want to split up our family, ask our children to shuttle between worlds. Sometimes we are just lost and lonely, or wandering because life has dealt us a paralyzing sucker punch. We want to return to love and just don’t know how.
Consider this column a safe haven where we can safely come to chat and chew on marriage. The tough times. What we have gone through, and why we have stayed. The unexpected fruits of staying as shared by a variety of women who have stories to tell and wisdom to share. Wisdom that may challenge you to think outside the box, to allow yourself a paradigm shift because that’s what it takes to weather tough times.
Our first topic introduces us to the inherent dangers of certain myths that our culture holds dear. Prince Charming, happily ever after, and the white picket fence are just a few of the phrases that come to mind. Transforming a marriage is, sometimes, about letting go of these images. Recognizing the end of a chapter when it presents itself and finding a way to move on, together.
Though it was not easy, one of the myths that my husband and I let go of was the whole concept of the American Dream. As I discuss in Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought our Family Home, the glossy magazine ordained lifestyle we were working long hours to achieve was the very thing that was getting in the way of our ability to love each other effectively. By stepping completely outside of that lifestyle and moving our family to Italy, we were able to see, more clearly, the downfalls of abundance. Living simply enabled us to create the emotional space needed to reconnect and remember that taking care of each other was more important than taking care of all of the things we had accumulated along the way.
I am excited to present Laura Munson and thank her for being my first guest to the CCC community. Her powerful memoir, This is Not the Story You Think it Is, recounts a painful time in her marriage and how she and her husband worked through it.
Laura delivers her story with courage and insight. This is what she had this to say about letting go.
“One of the things we fear most is being told we are unloved. Especially twenty years into a marriage that for the most part, we feel proud of. My husband and I had existed in the normal ebb and flow of married life: we’d been happy and unhappy together. It seemed important to know how to do both. We’d never really signed up for the happily-ever-after myth. Or had we?
When my husband announced that he no longer loved me and wanted to move out, I was stunned. I knew that he was in deep despair over his failing job, I knew he was wildly frustrated that my books were not getting published with all my efforts and his years of support…but I never saw his woe turning against all that we’d created together. Years of love, adventures, intimacy, laughs. Two happy healthy kids. Land in Montana. Our dream house. That’s what mattered, right? We could survive failing careers, couldn’t we? We’d be the ones to land on our feet, right? The look in his eyes told me that his love came with a cap on it, and that cap had to do with success. That was the piece in our wedding vows I’d missed. His “worse” was much less worse than mine. Had I been standing at that altar vowing to love a quadriplegic in a wheel chair, when he was vowing to be married to anything short of a New York Times bestselling author, but not too short thereof? Was he vowing to a permanently twenty year old body when I was picturing us old and grey and wrinkly, on a front porch? How much had myth run our relationship? Because to me, love was about holding the space for our partner’s hard times. Of course, I had my deal breakers. But being married to a man in financial ruin was not one of them, especially because I knew how hard he worked.
In my heart, I knew what I was up against. He was transferring his pain onto me. Rather than being responsible for his own emotions, he’d decided to blame me and run. I knew this man. This was not his style. He was in deep crisis and I knew that my reacting to his drama would only make things worse. So I said, “I don’t buy it. What can we do to give you the distance you need so you can heal through this season of your life without taking down the family?” Love could survive finances, couldn’t it? Shouldn’t it? The word should: not a good one in the field of myth-busting.
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