Does your marriage or relationship feel like a deja v`u experience? See if you relate to Christi
Relationship problems are like songs we don’t like. We have conflict or problems in our relationships, so we change something we’re doing - just like we change the songs we listen to, when we are tired of hearing them or don’t like them anymore.
The disturbing thing is, when you keep trying to change the songs of your relationship problems, you really prolong them. Why?
Consider Christi’s Experience
Christi* came home from dinner with Stan feeling angry and frustrated. One more time they had argued; this time it was about Stan’s drinking. Other times it was about how much time he spends watching sports, or how little time he actually spends WITH her when they go out. One more time Christi felt like she was in this relationship alone, that she had to do all the giving. One more time she felt invisible and taken for granted.
As she thought about it, Christi realized she had lived most of her adult life this way. First there was Bob, whom she had married in her mid-twenties. They were both just out of college when they married, and Christi thought the long hours Bob spent at his office at the start his career would eventually end, and they could focus on building their family together. They had three children in ten years, and Bob nearly missed the births of the last two. Christi became a very accomplished organizer and juggler, managing their home, taking care of the kids and getting them to their activities. She kept smiling and kept going, thinking things would change soon.
Meanwhile, Bob was advancing in his career, which required evening meetings with clients and community leaders. Christi attended these events sometimes; but then she stopped because she usually ended up by herself, while Bob was meeting and greeting, and furthering his career connections. All the time she kept telling herself she was doing this to support Bob.
She became so good at being a virtual single mother, she became invisible; to Bob and the kids too, in a way. That is, until the day she and the kids went on vacation, without Bob, because he had a big conference to attend, and couldn’t spare the time. The last thing she did as she was putting the bags in the car, was to leave Bob a note on his desk, telling him that she and the kids were not coming back.
When Bob discovered her note the next morning, he was dumbfounded. He had no idea she was so unhappy. Neither did the kids for that matter. She had kept herself so busy with running the house, and keeping her children going, she hardly knew it herself; that is, until the day she broke down and cried for hours, and realized she couldn’t do it anymore. She planned the trip, called her mother, and left.
Same Verse, Same as the First
After her divorce, Christi vowed she would never get involved with someone else like Bob. In fact, she didn’t date for two years; instead she got herself and her children settled in their new home, went back to school to update her nursing degree, and began a new job. She enjoyed her position in an out-patient surgery center, which gave her time during evenings and weekends to be with her children. The kids had finally begun to do better; it had taken time and therapy for them all, but Christi believed everyone was finally on the right track. She thought she was ready to begin dating again.
Christi was cautious when she met Stan; but his personality and interests, and especially his chosen career was so different than Bob’s, she decided to go ahead and take the chance, and they began dating. Their relationship was fun at first; Stan was so different than Bob, that it was refreshing to be with him.
After a while, Christi began to feel wooden and flat inside. She did not notice when Stan first started to ignore her, or take her for granted, or when she started to feel invisible again. This time, when she did notice it, she began saying things. She began to express her feelings of being invisible, and her frustration. After all, that is what her therapist had taught her to do, and so she began to speak up with Stan. That is when the arguments started.
Christi and Stan argued about what they did together, and what Stan did or didn’t do with Christi. They argued about her feelings and needs, and his right to his own interests and time. It happened over and over. Nothing really changed between them; in fact the arguments got worse. And Christi felt more and more alone, ignored and taken for granted.
Beginning to See
The night Christi came home after the dinner when she and Stan argued about his drinking, and she saw how she had spent so much of her adult like feeling the way she did, she felt stunned.
How could this have happened, when she vowed she would not be in that place again? She had taken time to get herself in a good place before she started dating again. And Stan was nothing like Bob! And she had not been quiet this time about her feelings and needs! Why did this place feel strangely familiar and comfortable? How did she end up feeling ignored, taken for granted and invisible, AGAIN?
What just happened for Christi?
Christi began to see her Relationship Roller Coaster. That was the day her relationships and her world began to change - for the better.
Do you relate to Christi? Do you feel stuck in patterns in your marriage that feel sublty familiar and comfortable, even though the details may be new? If so, you may be stuck on the Relationship Roller Coaster too.
The next article will share more about the Relationship Roller Coaster, including,
- What it is
- How we get on it
- Simple steps to help get yourself off of the Relationship Rollercoaster, and onto the smooth happy highway to relationship harmony and joy.
* This client's name and other identifying details have been changed to preserve her privacy.