Commenter Jacquie has written an excellent post on her marriage and facilitating changes within it. In it, she describes what she went through to regain her husband’s trust and rebuild her marriage. The whole post is excellent and I urge you to read it in its entirety, but what really stood out for me was her husband’s reaction to a deeply heartfelt letter that she had written to him and then her reaction to him.
I’d given him the letter. And I waited.
My mind had already constructed his reaction to my letter, my ten page letter. I knew how he should respond to me. This is laughable. The flaw in my scenario was that it was based on the female process of thought based on emotion. For this reason my husband did not respond as I had wanted. More than two decades of life together living in a certain pattern was not going to magically reset by the stroke of a pen on a few sheets of paper. A natural reaction would be to throw the shield back up, go on the defensive and demand things to be as I wanted them to be. I had put myself out there now he should respond in kind.
But I’d taken that look in the mirror.
I could choose to be a child about the situation or I could be an adult, take responsibility. Those were the only two choices. I was no longer ignorant; I had no excuses. I was the one who had to rebuild trust.
If her husband had done exactly what she thought she wanted him to do, I have to wonder if the whole endeavor would have been lost. Please understand that I don’t say this in any way to debase Jacquie. I say this because I remember this same thing happening at several points in the beginning of my marriage. I would do something I thought significant and expect my husband to react a certain way. He never did. What I was expecting from him was a reaction to me based on something as if I had already accomplished it, not the reaction to my saying I would do it. I have the utmost respect for Jacquie because, when her husband didn’t react the way she wanted, she didn’t get angry, or if she did, she didn’t let that stop her. She didn’t use that as an excuse to turn the mirror away from herself and back onto her husband and therefore not make the personal changes she needed to make. She changed anyway, because she knew that was all she could do. It was her responsibility to change the only thing she could. Herself.
It took me a long time to see this in my own marriage and to take responsibility for myself. Maritus would call me out, and I would refuse to (or couldn’t) see what he was saying. I would go off on some sort of irrational rant and I would expect him to say “Oh, I’m so sorry. I understand that you are upset and why. I will change” Instead he said, “Stingray, you’re being irrational. Come talk to me when you are making some sense.” and would walk away. (What just happened?!) Then, instead of taking responsibility, I would proceed to come up with every excuse in the world why I was right and why he was wrong, alone in my room because I was not going to talk to him about it and be called irrational again. Eventually, we would talk again and things would be fine. However, it took me a very long time to figure out that it was me who was wrong and needed to change. I was being irrational and it needed to stop. I could not have done this without Maritus. I could not have done it had he reacted the way I wanted him to. I was able to learn what our marriage needs and what he needs. He knew already what was needed. He expected nothing less and would allow nothing less. I am eternally grateful to him for standing his ground and calling me out. He didn’t know if I would change or not. Regardless, he would not let me disrespect him or our marriage. He stood fast. This gave me the opportunity to face myself in that mirror, realize where I was wrong, and change. I don’t think I would ever have done that on my own. I would never have been inspired to. His strength gave me what I needed to see myself, see what needed to be fixed and then the courage to fix it. He is my Rock.