Monday, August 5, 2013

The Restoration Project...Part 1

#1 It's All About Me!

That sounds good doesn't it?! I am the first one to admit that in the midst of our problems, I felt like my dissatisfaction in our marriage was due to things Erik was or wasn't doing FOR ME. I wanted him to be more romantic, more complimentary, more spontaneous. I got annoyed that I had to ask him to do things instead of him being the mind reader I thought he should be after several years of being together. He should KNOW me by now! I felt that if he would just start focusing more on ME, things would be idyllic. 

Unfortunately, I now realize that the "All About Me" mantra is more of a gut-check. It IS all about me. It's about my attitude, the way I speak to my partner, the way I respond to them. Example: Erik calls, upset about his day. He's had a rough one and he's exhausted. He walks in and looks around...the house is a disaster and I just know he's questioning what I did all day. So, without him saying a word, I immediately feel defensive and jump on him about something HE needs to do/forgot to do for ME. He feels attacked, I get my feelings hurt, and we both retreat to our respective technological distractions for the evening. This was a weekly occurrence (among many variations) for us at one point. Here is what it looks like now (mostly): Erik calls, upset about his day. He's had a rough one and he's exhausted. He walks in and looks around...the house is a disaster and I tell myself that he is NOT criticizing me in his head. I ask him what I can do for HIM to make his evening a little better. I cook go pick up a nice dinner, and we talk and hang out for the rest of the evening. 

Obviously, this is just a snippet of the way your attitude during simple, daily interactions can affect your life. For some, throwing things and leaving may come after what started as a defensive remark. For us, some yelling followed by a deadly silence was the standard. These are dangerous patterns and a horrible example for future generations. Remember, YOU are in control of and responsible for YOU. I think that you would be shocked at how much a change in your thoughts can improve your marriage. This is embarrassing to admit, but when Erik and I would fight about something, I would immediately start thinking horrible things in my head. Call him names I would never say out loud. Convince myself that he didn't love me. My negative thoughts were out of control. I realize now that the tone of my internal dialogue was and is the most powerful indicator of how our day will play out. Once I started REALLY focusing on my thoughts, holding them captive, and changing them, I became utterly amazed at how it affected my words, trickled down into my actions, and altered our relationship. For me, it was honestly as simple, and as difficult, as that. 

I will end with one of my favorite quotes by Zig Ziglar. I have shared it before, but it's THAT good:
“I have no way of knowing whether or not you married the wrong person, but I do know that many people have a lot of wrong ideas about marriage and what it takes to make that marriage happy and successful. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s possible that you did marry the wrong person. However, if you treat the wrong person like the right person, you could well end up having married the right person after all. On the other hand, if you marry the right person, and treat that person wrong, you certainly will have ended up marrying the wrong person. I also know that it is far more important to be the right kind of person than it is to marry the right person. In short, whether you married the right or wrong person is primarily up to you.”