Last year I learned about a guy, a hard worker, who stays very busy. He keeps long hours at the office and travels frequently. He’s well liked, has a great reputation and in fact is very good at what he does. His business is a huge success. But he’s away from home a lot and works such long hours that he doesn’t even know the name of his children’s friends nor realized for 3 months
that they’d gotten a new pet cat! His brain is so cluttered with work that it doesn’t have room for anything other than work. As a result his marriage has deteriorated. His kids miss him. He has two pre-teens and has never been to any of their dance recitals, PTA things, or pee wee football games. But his business is rockin’.
It was only when his wife brought up the subject of divorce that he consented to counseling. It was immediately apparent to the counselor that these two were more like strangers than lovers or even friends. There was mutual complaining and mutual criticism that for all practical purposes had progressed to the point of an alienation that was really the result of a busy man being very busy at work.
But when the counselor, in his attempt to find some common ground on which they might proceed to rebuild their relationship, then perhaps renew their friendship, then later a romance, asked the husband to go back to the beginning of when they had first met and share how and what attracted the two of them, their feelings, the events, and to progress on up to the current situation.
When the husband began doing so, intelligent and focused as he was at work, he utilized the same mental skills in relating their early history. As he began and then continued to describe how his wife, an inexperienced dater, came from an immigrant family with certain notions and traditions, and how after 3 years he won her family over in convincing them that he was an honest and forthright fellow with values and so forth, his eyes began to widen and it became apparent that he was revisiting the passions that stirred between he and her back then and how their common interests and mutual physical and chemical attraction blossomed into a full blown love that eventually brought forth a beautiful family with 3 children. Midway through relating his narrative he even reached out and held his wife’s hand.
It was apparent to the counselor that in spite of the mutual antagonism between the two that there still existed at least remnants of fondness and even admiration of one to the other. Marriage counselors who have had years of experience will tell you if, in marriages like these, that if mutual respect still exists and a semblance of fondness is there, then this can be built upon
to rescue the relationship or at least stop its demise.
In the Resource section of this website there’s a 20-statement
questionnaire that can help clarify and determine the level of fondness one partner has for the other. It’s purpose is to identify whether or not this is an issue, on what level it’s an issue, and how urgent it is to explore further or give attention to the relationship to make the needed repairs. In a coming blog I’ll post an outline of questions that will help in reviewing your relationship’s history or story, the purpose of which is to fan the flames before the embers fade out.