The very things that attracted you to each other under times of stress become the things you find yourself raging at. This particular couple has the same dynamics of Jon and I personality-wise so when she started sharing her heart with me I could really say "I've been there, felt that, said that, and done that!" The basic problem was this: Hubby is easy going, laid back, "safe", low key, a good match for wife that is high spirited, a go-getter, strong willed, perfectionist, high energy (and sometimes high maintenance) - hey, what do you expect when you marry a Ferrari? Hubby under tremendous amounts of stress begins to forget things, starts to mentally check out, forgets about romance - but still desires those sexual needs to be met. Wife gets extremely frustrated, feels like she has to do everything, feels like she has just added another child to the mix, wants to be loved, romanced and supported, but feels like raging and therefore pushes hubby away, causing him to check-out even more. Sound familiar to anyone?
So, here was how our conversation went. I reminded her that first and foremost, they were both running on empty, and had been for a while. In the past few years they've had a death of a close family member, moved twice, had financial struggles, and given birth to two babies in a short period of time = TONS OF STRESS. I told her that this season is the hardest one they will face as a married couple. These types of scenarios just do not bring out the best in people. I reassured her that it is NORMAL for her and hubby to feel tired, crabby, short fused, checked-out, wanting to escape it all.
But here is the good news. It does pass! It does get better. You do get to sleep again! You do get to have dates again. You will feel your rage dissipate! He will remember the romance!
She commented that when she rages and he pulls away, it makes it even worse because what she really wants is for her prince to rescue the princess, to pull her in closer and to take her away from all the madness.
I responded, "but princes don't rescue dragons."
I went on to explain that if she wants her prince to rescue her, then she needs to appeal to that side of him, and show him her vulnerability. I shared with her that one day when I was raging to Jon about something I thought he had done wrong, he looked at me and said "I don't respond to threats, but I do respond to needs. What do you need from me?"
That was a turning point for us. I realized that the rage had been my friend in the moment, but in reality, my "friend" turned into my worst foe. Back to my conversation from this morning, something was said that really made me laugh... "rage is like candy dripping with butter deep fried in goodness." It can be a high, that's for sure! But in the end, it does not get you what you really want. It pushes you further and further from what you want. In the end, like any other addiction, it destroys everything that is near and dear to you.
So how do you transform from a dragon to a princess? It starts with a choice. When you are feeling rage, you don't believe you have a choice, but you do. You just have to train yourself and discipline yourself to get to the root of what you are really needing in that moment. When I first started this process, I would think to myself "I NEED you to stop being a dumb-ass." Well we all know that is not the right answer, LOL. So I would have to dig deeper. Sometimes it was as simple as "I need a nap." Sometimes it was, "I need to feel supported. I need you to let me know everything is going to be alright." And sometimes (even though we would never admit it out loud), we even need our husbands to give us boundaries when we are out of control. A good one I remember from our counselor was this "when respect leaves the room, so do I." I realized most of the time I was afraid, or feeling neglected and sad, or disappointed. I had to train myself to express those emotions, and stop using my default emotion, rage/anger.
After our conversation, my friend called up hubby and said this:
"I apologize for being a dragon. What I really need from you when things are tough, and I haven't slept and I'm having trouble controlling my emotions, is for you to look past that. I need to be seen by you, I need to feel connected with you. You can help me by holding me even if I'm wearing my dragon suit. When I'm in your arms I promise not to burn your head off, and I will do my best to become the vulnerable princess you need me to be."
Well done! And I know as time goes by you two are just going to get better and better at this marriage stuff!
If you can really relate to all of this, and know of others who could as well, please pass this on!
I want to conclude with a clip from one of my all-time favorite movies about marriage. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry. It displays the realities of marriage, the good times and the bad, and leaves you with a sense of hope and humility. I hope you enjoy!
(If you click on The Story of Us bottom left of the video, it will open in a new screen for you and you can close the advertisements as well as view it larger).