Remember the first time you saw your current partner? Maybe you looked at her like she was the most beautiful woman in the world or after your first date you thought to yourself “I want to make her laugh for the rest of my life”. During this time you and her probably pursued one another like two flames reaching for each other; attracted to the newness of it all, the twists in your stomach that you felt every time you touched her skin, the madness of falling in love with her could not be beat.
And then what happened? Marriage, kids, careers, bills, routine… Did the madness of love turn into just being… mad? If someone were to ask you about the quality of your relationship with your partner, what would you say? Do you find yourself feeling stagnant in your relationship? Have you thought about seeking attention from elsewhere?
THIS is not what you envisioned the first time you kissed your wife and you are not alone in these thoughts.
I may not be a man, but I have been working with men for a while now and I’ve had the great fortune of seeing what happens when walls come down; the willingness most men have to fight for their families and marriages is phenomenal. The barrier; however, is being able to translate this desire to fix your marriage into learning to lead you and your partner into new territory that can feel daunting. Do you recall that part in Lion King when Mufasa is showing Simba the Pride Lands and Simba asks “what’s over there?” Mufasa replies “those are the Dark Lands, we do not go over there”. The Dark Lands in this example are communication, empathy, vulnerability, and partnership.
Well, gentlemen, it’s time to go into the Dark Lands.
Let’s start with communication because it seems to be simple enough, right? Communication can start small like telling your partner about your day, obstacles that you overcame, or even about your stressors. By developing regular conversation with one another you are then creating a foundation to talk about and work through the big stuff as they come up. Often what I hear from men is “well I don’t want ‘them’ to stress” (them being moms, wives, friends, etc); part of being a leader and partner is not shielding them from what’s ahead, but giving your spouse information so that they can be informed and provide support.
Empathy is not something that many people lack-in fact, I bet you are a lot more empathetic than you’ve allowed yourself to be. Ways in which you can demonstrate empathy with your partner:
1) show concern for what they are saying
2) listen with the intention of understanding
3) ask questions
4) show that you are invested in her life by asking what it all means to her
Hopefully these two tips will fair well with you, next time I will discuss vulnerability and partnership.
At Mind Works Counseling Services in Lubbock, TX we specialize in helping couples find a stronger and deeper connection with one another. If this blog has resonated with you and you would like a bit more support in understanding yourself and building a stronger relationship please reach out and start your counseling journey today.
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