I really didn’t see it coming. My wife and I went to our first counseling session and when the therapist asked if we both wanted to remain in our marriage, I said, “Yes of course I do.” My wife said, “I was afraid to say this at home but I want a divorce.” WHAT???
Susan and I had been married for 13 years. We had the usual conflicts, just like all married couples. Susan would bring up things that annoyed her about me but I always thought it was just her mood and it would pass. I never had the insight (I have learned that word in therapy) to realize the damage that was being done by my aloof attitude.
So what went wrong?
Here is what Susan shared with the therapist:
I have asked Jim (that’s me) countless times to use the laundry hamper for his dirty clothes. I wouldn’t even call it a near miss; the clothes end up wherever they land. Each time I would see his clothes on the floor I would go from annoyed, to irritated, to angry, to apathetic. It was exhausting to tell Jim to pick up his clothes on a daily basis. He also never offered to help with other household chores, even though I work a full time job too.
I wanted Jim to be my partner and not put me in the role of “his mother.” He is a grown man who is able to see the clothes hamper, lift the lid and put the clothes in it. I can do it, no one has to remind me.
I was being disrespected!!! How can something so simple and easy become such a deal breaker. The more I brought it up the more he seemed determined to continue doing it. It made no sense to me. He doesn’t understand that I am not divorcing him because he did not use the laundry hamper or put his dirty dishes in the dishwasher.
Here is what Jim learned:
All of a sudden, I realized it’s not about something as benign and meaningless as dirty laundry on the floor or dishes in the sink. I don’t have to understand WHY she cares so much about having to pick up my dirty laundry, I just have to understand and respect that she DOES.
The words “I Love You” cannot carry a marriage. Actions will always speak louder that words. The man capable of behavior changes………even when he does not understand or agree with her thought processes…….can have a great relationship.
Vicki L Mayfield, M.Ed., R.N., LMFT Marriage and Family Therapy Oklahoma City
If you would like to send a question to Vicki, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org