Before and After Testimony
I love my husband, and I know that he loves me. But I almost never feel like I know him, and he certainly doesn’t know me. He doesn’t ask me about me, and he doesn’t share much of himself with me. I feel so stupid and self-indulgent saying that: I wish somebody was interested in hearing me talk about me. And people are, just not a person I can lay in bed and laugh and think deep thoughts with, not a person with whom I can always take it to the next level, not a person I’m allowed to go deep with.
I feel like I have no space to grow. I need to grow, I am the sort of creature that needs to always be growing, and my soul feels stifled at home [which is such a difficult contrast when I have put myself in the opposite situation at work – and with the whole world as a result]. How depressing, to wake up Saturday morning and feel useless, like I don’t exactly know how I belong.
Even the unspeakable joy I feel because of my son feels like it’s being shortchanged in the dim space of my domestic life [which of course leads to admittedly irrational thoughts that I am a bad mother, and it is so unfair I should suffer them because I am a wonderful, loving, affectionate mother with a happy baby who loves me very much and for whom I would do anything]. I fight! I struggle for more light, for understanding, for transparency and sharing. I wish I could elbow my way through these walls around me. I’m afraid that one day I won’t be able to contain myself in this confined space where I am supposed to live now. I am so young to be facing down the end of my sex life, the end of real adult emotional intimacy, the end of curiosity and exploration and ecstasy and pleasure and even being kissed and touched and told I am loved before I fall asleep at night. But more and more I give up over time, because the humiliation I feel at the very idea of asking to be told I am loved before I fall asleep at night makes the struggle untenable.
How can I feel at all confident in my assertion that he loves me when I recognize so clearly that I don’t know him? I don’t know his thoughts. I don’t know his insides. [I don’t even know his body, maybe statically, but not dynamically.] I thought I did. But I can see now that my mind colored in some spaces the way I wanted them to look without really knowing for sure what lived – or didn’t live – in every nook and cranny. Of course, how could I have really known these things until I did? how could anyone? And how could someone like me, with such an enormous capacity to love, end up – not once, but twice! – afforded such a meager ration of affection to live on? How am I supposed to survive in this cage I’ve unknowingly built for myself, with no way out and more to the point, seemingly no way in? But then how can I entertain the idea that this was a mistake, that this is no good for me, well, that it is good for me – it’s really good in most every way – except for the fact that my soul rots with neglect from the inside out?
And then there is the anger. I can’t even approach the outrageous fury that I know lives inside me, ready to lash out at the injustice of this conflict in which I am forced to live. I want to be good, goddammit! I work so hard to be good, to feel good, to be satisfied and happy and grateful. To do right by others. This is perhaps the most important thing to me, that everywhere I can I do right by others, my own people among them – my own people first among them. I would never, never want to hurt my husband. I love my husband. So why has this struggle to be in that place been thrust upon me, why does it require the suppression of so many things I want for myself, so many things that seem natural and also right to want? Why does it require such futile and debasing supplication on my part, longing to be loved as overwhelmingly as I feel love for the world? Is it wrong to love myself, even a fraction as much as I love others?
I think horrible things about myself. Then I don’t think they’re true, but I don’t know what’s true anymore.
AFTER [two weeks of using the modified Coué method – every day in every way our marriage and our sexual relationship are getting better and better]:
For starters, engaging in a separate but shared activity with my husband drew us closer; it put us back on the same team working on a joint project. This was an added benefit for us as a couple on top of the other things this practice has enabled us to do pursuing it as individuals. I also immediately felt like I had some control back in our sexual/romantic relationship, because I had something to DO every day that was contributing to our situation getting better. I had really struggled in recent months with feeling like I had no power to exert change in my personal life, like our power differential as a couple was all out of whack, because I asked and my husband said no, so where did that leave me? This was something simple to do that miraculously and almost inexplicably gave that power back to me, and it was like all the anger that had been building inside of me off and on for years – so much anger that I didn’t know if I could contain it anymore, that I couldn’t fathom how I was ever going to offload it bit by bit – just evaporated overnight. I don’t know where it went – I don’t know if God took it away and this is how people feel when they truly give things over to a higher power, or if it was just that notion of having something to do, some role to play, backed by the self-fulfilling prophecy that things were in fact going to get better, that dissolved all of that anger – but within a day I felt like a new and renewed person in my marriage and in my home.
I could again feel all of the love for my husband that had been getting choked out by my anger toward him. I didn’t feel out of place in my house anymore when Saturday came. I felt both like there was new possibility and there was also an optimistic certainty, because really all we’re doing here is committing to something, so we know what the outcome will be. Knowing where we’re going to end up – and that it’s a place we want to be – is a tremendously valuable tool for pulling ourselves through what’s between here and there. But no one tells you when you get married that you need to vow to make together the kind of life you want for yourselves, and that you need to repeat those vows again and again every day you’re living that life. I knew the first part already because of my brief experience being married before, where there was a complete failure to build a life I had any interest in living. But I didn’t know we needed to affirm our plans for a great life together every day. WE DO.
We’ve only been doing this for a month or so now, and while there haven’t been huge, miraculous changes in what we are actually doing with our sex life yet, there have been huge miraculous changes in how I feel, and that allows me to participate in the process of improving our sex life, whereas before I was too mad to participate, I was too distanced. I feel like things are back to normal, like I can be affectionate toward my husband and have positive expectations. This approach got us to a shared, neutral space where we can work on our problems together. And it put him in a space where he is aware that he needs to say ‘yes’ a lot more, and he is less likely to say ‘no’ as a default, because he has reminded himself every morning and every night that he wants things to get and be better. It is a deceptively simple idea, but a powerful tool for living into whatever commitments we want to make, remaking them and owning them as individuals every day of our lives. And for me, more so than my husband I think, it took me from the brink of despair – really, the brink of despair about the thing in my life that is most important to me – and dropped me instantly back into a place where our problems were solvable and things were going to be okay. I don’t understand it, I wouldn’t have believed it could make a difference so quickly, but it worked.
After: Drum Roll Please
The following is an unsolicited testimonial of the deep transformation that took place with one of my clients. She has given me permission to share it. I hope you find it inspiring. When you are ready to shift your life call me!