I just got off a call with a client.
She thought something was wrong with her because of persistent negative feelings about her marriage.
She understood her thought perpetuated the feelings, and yet it felt dismissive the way she was applying that knowledge.
She thought it meant she should just change her thought and feel better about things.
She felt shame for the way she was feeling and the ways she was thinking. She wanted to perfectly manage her mind and for her marriage to be "ideal".
What she didn't understand was that as human beings we feel negative half the time.
It does not mean that you are not a good enough Christian, wife or that you are failing.
We can just notice this is part of living in a fallen world, AND it's not who we ARE.
However, when we start judging and resisting our thoughts, we are dismissing ourselves. We are exacerbating agony by agonizing over it.
When we resist, it is the equivalent of trying to push a beach ball under the water. The more we push it down, the more it pops up. It is a futile and counter-effective effort. It takes a lot of energy. It can consume us.
The more we push happy and resist negativity the more the negativity comes up.
This does not mean we indulge the negative or unpreferred emotion.
Rather we allow it. We allow without indulging or resisting.
We notice thoughts creating the feelings. We notice our thoughts about our feelings. We notice and allow it much the same way you allow a toddler to throw a fit at the store.
You don't' have to give into the toddler and you know you cannot stop the toddler from throwing the tantrum.
You allow him to do his thing because that is what he is going to do anyway.
When you stop resisting without indulging you are allowing. And when you allow, you aren't forcing life, yourself or your relationship to fit your preconceived mold.
Allowing is gentle. It is loving.
And when we love, it is always enough.
It is normal to have an imperfect marriage. It is okay to be an imperfect wife. Nothing is wrong if you husband is imperfect.
That's just how it is when you live in a fallen world.
I get to decide how I think and feel about you. And you can't stop me.
I want to be married to my husband. I want to love him and our life together.
I decided that I am going to think things that make me feel loving towards him regardless of what he does. When I do this, I am choosing unconditional love. I want to feel love for him no matter what because that feels better to me than hate or judgment.
When we feel things like hate and judgment, we are the one who suffers most. Because your feelings are an internal experience, they are felt by you, not by the person you are having those feelings about.
You can love someone or hate someone and you are the one having that experience. There are people I adore and admire and they hardly know I exist. I feel strong positive feelings toward them. That love is my experience not theirs.
Even if they know I exist and I act loving toward them, they don't feel my feeling. They only interpret my actions that come from my feeling of love as their thought. Their thought. Not mine. They think something about what I do or say and they they feel what they feel based on their thought. That is the feeling they experience.
I have my feelings and you have your feelings.
You can hate me and I can still love you.
It feels so much better to love you than hate you. So why wouldn't I choose that?
Some tell me it hurts to love.
Loving never hurts.
If you love someone and they leave you, cheat on you or say something horrible its not the love you have for them that hurts. What hurts is the meaning you give to the thing they did. Your feelings may hurt, but the love never caused the hurt.
If I love someone and make a bid to connect and they don't reciprocate, I might make that mean I am not interesting, lovable or good enough. I might feel unloved. I might say it hurts to love. However my feeling of love did not cause the feeling of hurt. The meaning I gave their actions caused my pain.
Withholding love never protects you or hurts someone else. It only hurts you.
When you say, "They don't deserve my love," you are simply denying yourself the feeling of love.
You are the only one who feels your feeling of love.
Love is an emotion you experience in your body. It fuels what you do and don't do. It is your experience. It does not jump out of your body into someone else's body. It is simply your feeling.
No matter what someone does, we get to feel love. It is such a great choice.
This does not mean we don't set boundaries. It just means we don't have to feel hate or anger doing it. We don't have to react.
Humans do things from a place of pain. We can hate them for it or love them as a human.
You decide how you want to feel about someone. Why not choose love?
It feels amazing.
Monday my husband and I will celebrate our 19th anniversary and take a 2 day stay-cation in the middle of a work week. It isn't a long time and we have little planned, but we will be together.
Our birthdays are 2 days apart in November, six months after our anniversary. It has become our bi-annual ritual that we can count on. Every six months we send the kids to family or friends and take a short trip or keep it simple and stay in town.
Rituals of Connection are attaching points in your relationship that you can count on. They can be mundane or more festive, but they are a healthy and intentional part of a marriage.
I like the idea of establishing daily, weekly and annual rituals in your relationship.
I have always been a big fan of bedtime for my kids, ONE because my kids function so much better with adequate sleep, and TWO, because my marriage functions so much better on shared time.
It gets a little trickier as the kids get older, but Rich and I sill have protected time in the evening, often between 9 and 10 where we come together kid free. Usually it involves watching "our show" (whatever that is at the time). Sometimes swapping back rubs is included, but other times its just sharing the couch and space together with our attention on the same thing.
Another daily ritual that I have noticed Rich does is when he leaves and when he comes home from work he always hunts me down and gives me a kiss. He always tells me "bye" or "hi" in this way. I might be more likely to yell, "see you!" and fly out the door, but Rich always does this and I have gotten use to it as something I can count on even if it is very ordinary for us.
A monthly ritual of connection of ours is we have a date night. That does become easier with older kids, but even if your kids are young making this a priority can be such an investment in your marriage. I have a client who has a babysitter on reserve for the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. They picked Tuesdays because there are never kid's activities and so they put a tag on this night that says. "For US."
What are your rituals of connection? I bet you have some. What rituals would you like to build into your relationship?
Where we are in life proves what we are thinking. When we change our perspective, we can change our lives and our relationships.