This Post Isn’t About What You Think
I took the picture that accompanies this post earlier this summer while I was on vacation in the mountains of Colorado. This cow (or possible bull? I really don’t know) is stuck. Her pasture is surrounded by electric fencing. Her future is certain. Eventually some of her will end up on someone’s dinner plate and the rest of her will end up in some dog’s bowl.
There’s nothing she can do about this. She could try to escape. But really, why bother? Cows can’t jump, and they can’t run very fast either.
You, on the other hand, are not like the cow in this photo. You are not being forced to stay in your current situation. Your future is not certain. Anything could happen because you have choices. You could stay in your marriage. You could leave it. Or you could attempt to change the system from within.
You are reading this blog because you are attempting to change the system from within.
Still, despite all of this, you probably still feel stuck and you might even feel a bit angry at me for telling you that you have choices. That’s understandable. All I can give you are two words. They are “been” and “there.” I once felt just as stuck, too.
I eventually learned, however, I was staying stuck in a bad marriage because I was resisting change. I was, as Albert Einstein once said, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein also said that we can’t “solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” It was only after I changed my thinking that I was able to change my marriage.
What follows are the types of thinking I had to change.
- You only notice what your spouse does wrong. I still do this occasionally. For instance, this Saturday, my husband did something and I thought, “Typical” quickly followed by “figures. He WOULD do that. He ALWAYS does this.” I had to stop myself and remind myself of all of the many things he does right—and that his behavior that morning actually wasn’t typical, not anymore anyway.
- You refuse to change your communication tactics. If you are a yeller, then you just keep yelling. If you are a sulker, then you keep doing that. If you are a silent-treatment-doller-outer, then that’s what you do. You keep communicating in this way even though it’s not working for you.
- You want to be understood, but you don’t try to understand. You want to be loved, but you don’t love. You want to be heard, but you don’t listen. I could go on. Life is a paradox. Many times what we most want is the very thing we often refuse to give. Give and you shall receive.
- It’s all about your issues and not your spouse’s issues. You want your spouse to take you seriously when you ask her to help you keep the house clean and orderly, but you don’t take her seriously when she says she wants more passion in the bedroom. To her, this issue is just as important as your issue. Until you see that, you will be stuck.
- You refuse to go out of your comfort zone. You might say, “I don’t do affection” or “I’m just not into giving compliments” or something else. But these are all skills, skills you can learn and become comfortable with. When you tell your partner, “I just don’t do _______,” what you are really saying is “You are not important enough for me to stretch out of my comfort zone.” That stings.
- You expect more than your spouse is capable of giving. The flipside of #5 is that some people really are only capable of so much change in a given amount of time. Sometimes acceptance is in order. Learn how to deal with the issues that matter most and to let the small stuff go.
- The August Reader of the Month is donating her free pass to an Orlando theme park because she lives overseas and can’t use it. I will pick one commenter on this post randomly for that prize. When you comment, please mention whether you want to go to Orlando.
- I have a new co-authored book coming out in a few weeks. I wrote it with a retired FBI Profiler. Dangerous Instincts is an important book, one that I think everyone needs. Therefore you should absolutely preorder it of you know what’s good for you. I’ll be telling you more about this book closer to its release date.
- You can listen to my interview on Woman Talk Live here.
- You have until September 24 to win a free copy of the No Fight Divorce Book.
A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.