“To say that one waits a lifetime for his soulmate to come around is a paradox. People eventually get sick of waiting, take a chance on someone, and by the art of commitment become soulmates, which takes a lifetime to perfect.”
― Criss Jami, Venus in Arms
When clients come to me, some of them aren't even sure they want to stay in their marriage. The good news for me is that it isn't my decision, but I do think it's super kick ass that I get to help them gain clarity around what they truly want. Often times what we discover after a session or two is that they've never actually committed to their marriage. Of course they've exchanged vows and fantasized about growing old together, but most of that was all early marriage stuff. You know, when they were still in love. When things were easy.
Then life happened.
Bills needed to be paid. Laundry needed to be folded. A family member needed help. Work stress got brought home. The kids needed to be fed and bathed. Someone wanted sex and the other didn't. Maybe infertility snuck into bed with them. A family member passed away. Someone lost a job. Someone found a new passion and the other didn't. One of them lost weight and the other put on some extra pounds. They stopped checking in with each other. They stopped injecting romance into their marriage. You know the story.
Then maybe someone else came along and caught their eye, and they felt understood and seen by this "other person." Or maybe my client was sitting at lunch one day and observed a couple interacting with one another, and this couple reminded my client of all the things they weren't getting from their marriage. Connection. Fun. Conversation. Flirting. Touching. Laughter.
Ouch. How did things get so far off course from happily ever after?
BUT, this is where opportunity thrives... in that space between where you are and where you want to be.
*where you are now --------OPPORTUNITY--------- where you want to be*
This opportunity requires one magical ingredient- a commitment to the commitment.
When you commit to the commitment, you create room in your marriage for opportunity and growth. You create room for disagreements. You create room for (temporary) disappointment. You create room for unexpected twists and turns. You create room for differences in opinion, personality, perspective. You create room for trust to blossom. You create room for your marriage to go through rough patches and make it through to the other side. Because rough patches happen.
How do you commit to the commitment? You make a conscious decision to show up for yourself and your marriage. It means you decide to stop toying with the idea that your happiness exists outside of yourself and outside of your marriage. It means you stop leaking your energy into daydreaming about doing life with someone else. You stop threatening your spouse with divorce. You stop collecting evidence that your marriage is doomed. You stop comparing you and your spouse to other couples. You stop crossing the line with that other person. You stop expecting your spouse to read your mind. You stop blaming your spouse. You stop being a victim of your vows. Instead, you take an honest inventory of what's really happening, and you decide what you need, what your spouse needs, and what your marriage needs, and you find a way to get those needs met. That is commitment.
Think about it like this...
Stick two fingers into your ribcage. Keep them there as you try to have a conversation with your spouse. Keep them there while you try spending some quality time with your spouse. Better yet, keep them there while you and your spouse are at odd's end with one another. Chances are, no matter the situation, you will be very aware that your fingers are digging into your ribs, and this awareness will drain your energy and keep you from being fully in the moment.
This is a metaphor, of course, for what it's like when you go through life with the thought that, "Well, if it doesn't work out, I'll just get a divorce." "If my husband doesn't make me happy, I'll find someone that does." "If my wife doesn't appreciate me, I'll find a woman who will." "Things are ok, but I bet they would be even better had I married _________."
You can never fully show up for yourself or your spouse if these are the kind of thoughts you're jabbing into your marriage, and chances are, you're going to find out what a "self-fulfilling prophecy" is all about.
Here's a personal account:
When my husband and I were "less than committed to the commitment," I used to stay awake at night and think about all the ways life would be different if we weren't married. How things would be harder and maybe better. Maybe I would find someone who I felt more connected to. Maybe I would bloom as a single woman. If you name it, I was thinking it.
When he and I would go on a date together, I would be there with him, but I was a million miles away. When we got into disagreements, they turned into huge arguments. When he would try to talk to me about how he was feeling about something I had said or done, I would shut down. I would blame him. He would blame me. I would try to run away. (For my astrology people, my Mars is in Sagittarius. Running away is something I had to make a very conscious decision to stop doing.)
Even when things were "good" and we were "happy," we were no where near the "great" and "fulfilled" that we are now. We didn't have the energy to create fulfillment. We were too busy living with two feet in two different worlds. The married world, and the divorced world.
Then one day, my own life coach said, "What is it costing you to continue 'not knowing' if you're staying or getting a divorce?"
Boom. It was costing me my power, my happiness, my energy, and my potentially wonderful marriage.
I made the decision right then to stop trying to "decide" if my marriage was going to work out. I was going to be all-the-way-married. No more half-assing it. I was going to do the damn thing and dedicate all of my effort towards creating my marriage rather than analyzing the shit out of it. I decided the worst that could happen would be that I gave it one hell of a shot, and if I still ended up divorced, I would have no regrets.
I committed to the commitment that my husband and I made on one incredibly hot July day, when we agreed to love one another "for better or for worse."
Essentially, I took my fingers out of my ribs. I created room in my marriage for opportunity. I created room for our differences. I created room for disagreements. I created room for my feelings and for my husband's. I created room for hard times. I created room for loss and room for gain. I created room for life to happen and for us to grow. Together.
As I shifted my energy and how I was showing up in my marriage, so did my husband. We began to speak differently to each other. We began to discuss rather than fight. We began to really spend time together. We began to really work on understanding what we needed. We began to build trust again. We were grounding ourselves in our present, which allowed us to build our future.
Instead of perceiving every little bump in the road as a threat to our marriage, we began seeing it as an opportunity to strengthen our bond. We finally had room to expand as both individuals and a couple. Because our marriage was no longer a "maybe."
What is "maybe" costing you? Leave a comment or give me a shout! I would love to help you discover how to create more room in your marriage.