This fabulous article is really getting around…by Laura A. Munson, a woman who prevented a threatened divorce that seemed to come out of nowhere…if you haven’t read it yet…read it now and we’ll talk about it:
What this woman did worked. Here are some thoughts on why it worked:
1. It’s much easier to repair damage while he’s still in the house. Once he moves out…it’s much harder. Living separately becomes “the norm” – even if he doesn’t like it at first, he’ll get used to it.
2. She had so much confidence that it carried him through his own lack of confidence…
3. She created and allowed so much distance, space, “room” for him to do “whatever” — that he no longer had to create distance himself…
3. In the end, he wanted to come back more than he wanted to leave…
What this brave, amazing woman did was stick to what she wanted and stick to her plan.
Now — here are some of the questions I would love to ask her:
>>I’d love to ask about the “hard conversations” they had after he came back fully into the life of the family.
>>I’d like to ask — was this absolutely all about “him” — or was it about her, too?
>>I’d ask: How is it possible to be married so long and not know your husband is unhappy? I’d ask: What did she discover, in talking later, that led to the emotional separation and his seemingly out-of-the-blue anger and immaturity?
And then, what I’d like to talk about with you is — what, if anything, could she have done or not done that would have saved her 6 months of horror and pain, and got him back into “conversation” sooner, so that if you find yourself in anything like this situation, you can fix it faster?
Let’s look at what she did:
1. She stepped back. She stopped doing anything that could push him further away. She stopped asking for things, she stopped trying to talk about the relationship, she stopped any kind of expectations so that she never was disappointed, and she completely avoided making him wrong for his behavior. She gave herself a time line to stick with her plan so it wasn’t just open-ended. She took control of HER side of the situation, without trying to take control of HIS side of the situation.
2. She invited him to join in the life of the family, without expectation, without agenda, without comment, without management and without complaint for his bad behavior. And she handled her own emotions, which kept her from making the situation worse.
These two steps could be translated simply to: Strong on the inside, Soft on the outside. This could be inner boundaries and outer openness.
So let’s just flesh this out:
1. Stepping back, leaning back, walking away from arguments, and keeping the distance rather than trying to step forward and fix the situation is ALWAYS the way to go when a man is behaving badly. When you want something that he isn’t giving. When he’s doing stuff you don’t want him to do, and when he’s not doing stuff you want him to do.
I have pretty much nothing to add here to what she did because she really executed this step totally brilliantly.
2. Being an invitation. There is no way to know here, because she doesn’t talk about it, but I wonder how emotionally open she was able to be with her husband when he was behaving so badly and she was feeling so many powerful, unpleasant feelings — anger, resentment, fear, grief… that she was not showing him. She doesn’t say how many feelings and exactly how she was handling her emotions. Was she stuffing everything down? Was she talking to a therapist? Was she talking to her friends? Or was she sharing bits and pieces of how she felt to her husband as they went along so that she could stay sane?
If she had USED her emotions to help the situation, what would that have looked like? If she had used Circular Dating, what would that have looked like?
I know that the article focuses on her man’s loss of “pride,” as the primary cause of that horrible moment when he wanted to walk away from everything.
But my question would be about what I think is the primary cause — and that’s anger. I’m certain that they talked over all of this later on, and, hopefully, got all the anger out into the air and cleared up and things shifted in the relationship. So…
What would’ve happened if, instead of just doing step one brilliantly, she had expanded on step two? What if she, herself, had become an invitation for the release, finally, of all the emotions that BOTH of them must have been stuffing down for a long time? Would that have facilitated a faster resolution?
Does a man going through his “Dark Night of the Soul” necessarily mean he needs to run away? Like a child’s running away to join the circus? Is this the only possible result of a man’s “mid-life crisis”?
Is our only option to give him and distance and room to work things out on his own?
If you are just beginning to date a man, and he starts going through something like this in his life, I would hope for you that you are Circular Dating up a storm and could simply let him do what he does — without investing any of yourself and him.
But if you’ve been married to man for a very long time, and you still have feelings for him, and you have a household you love and children you love together — you are invested. Can you do more here then Step One and the part of Step Two Laura tells us about where she invites him to participate in the life of the family in a “logistical” way?
What would have happened if she had said to him Wow I can feel how angry you are? What would have happened if she had said I’m feeling scared, actually terrified, bad because I had no idea you were so unhappy and I wonder how I could have missed that, and I wonder how angry you must be to want to just leave…?
There is no doubt that Laura is a Warrior. Strong as steel. And she’s also the woman this man really and truly wanted to be with forever. Despite his meltdown.
And I wonder — I would love to speak to her about this and open up the floor to you, too… how much more quickly he might have turned around if she had been willing to say: Well, perhaps some of this is about me. Perhaps there’s something I can do here.
Most of the comments I’ve read in forums that are not 100% “You go girl!” about this article focus on why she bothered to stick with a man who was behaving so badly.
I look at this in just the opposite way. To me, if you are that invested in a man, then there’s “stuff” going on in the relationship — and not just about “him” — that no one’s talking about. And the secret of getting reconnected to a man is all about unearthing that stuff that no one’s talking about — WITHOUT leaning forward, trying to get conversations started, and generally pushing him further away — but doing it in a “feminine,” feeling, open way that is an irresistible invitation. Even to a man in a deep funk.
This is an art. This is the art we are all working on — the art of being strong on the inside and soft on the outside. About having boundaries on the inside and openness on the outside. This is the art of being able to step away from the man, and yet open your heart to the man. This is the art of being able to FACILITATE a healing.
To facilitate a healing, to re-create trust and openness, to make it okay to be exactly who you are in a relationship — even if you’re in the middle of a Dark Night of the Soul — that’s something WE can DO!
By learning to be exactly who we are on the deepest level, and to let that be seen no matter what the situation — without even needing to talk much about it — just letting it be there, we create an environment and an atmosphere where everybody can start to tell the truth.
I am so happy for Laura that she was able to reconnect her marriage and to open up the truth and heal her relationship.
And for you — If you are in anything like the situation, I want that reconnection to happen as quickly as possible.
So.. use my Tools to drop deeper into who you are, to share the truth about who you are, and to facilitate your man having confidence in your ability to handle your OWN truth. Whatever it is.
Use my Tools of “language” to help a relationship heal so that — should he decide to open up and let you know the truth about what’s going on with him he’ll KNOW that you will not judge him, you will not correct him, you will not make him wrong, you will simply allow the connection to happen.
Let me know how you feel about all this… Love, Rori