When relationships go wrong the pain can be unbelievable. Today’s post is about a couple whose relationship was quickly out of control and both people thought it was the end.
When I first agreed to meet this couple she arrived first.
She was clearly very anxious, eyes darting, wringing hands, unsure if her husband would even turn up.
She’d had an affair and when he found out the relationship went into a full-blown free fall.
It had tipped him over the edge, she had never seen him this bad and was convinced it was the end for them.
We both waited for him to arrive and when he did it was clear his pain was unbearable for him.
It was like he was trying to escape from his own body, unable to sit still or remain focused he was ready to run at the slightest wrong word or look.
That day was the start of the 3 of us working as a team to define their future.
It was tough work, but it is what freed them to discover their truth.
That first meeting was two years ago.
He is a CEO of a well knowing company and after the work we did on his marriage he came back asking me to become his personal coach.
On a recent call we started an interesting discussion about what happened to them.
I asked him how they both were today.
I was delighted to hear they were better than they had ever been.
But I was curious what was it that made the difference for him and his wife?
He told me he was convinced it was over
I asked him – How do you think you went from such a bad place to one where you are the happiest you have ever been?
He said when he first discovered his wife’s affair he was convinced it was over.
He said I just couldn’t see how we could ever survive it.
We tried to deal with what happened together, but any wrong turn would have meant an almost certain divorce, we were making it worse.
Trying to navigate it was like walking through a minefield blindfolded, I knew we needed help but I wasn’t sure I wanted it to work.
He said to me without you there is no doubt we would have divorced.
What we learnt was life changing
So for you I became the guide through your mindfield.
So on reflection what was it about the work we did that helped you.
He said there were 3 things that really made the difference for him.
- Having you an expert to help us was critical.
- When we peeled back all the crap and all our distortions, limiting beliefs and misunderstanding we found a way to connect to love. Love that was buried under our years of resentments.
- The third was about us both taking responsibility for our part in what lead her to an affair which was really tough to hear.
His observations were really interesting because if he had never taken responsibility for his part in the state of their relationship before she chose the affair, the affair and all their problems would have been always her fault.
If the state of the relationship was all her doing he would never have been able to forgive her and he would always be out of control of that relationship and it would have ended.
The moment he took responsibility he saw that he could reverse his old destructive behaviours, behaviours he was unaware of and start to influence her positively this shift would keep their connection alive.
This couple had lived disconnected for years, neither person understood how to hear, communicate and care for the other so they couldn’t grow their relationship.
Their lives became parallel and their interest in each other had become lost and full of resentment.
Once they both discovered all the moving parts that would influence their connection they quickly noticed a change in how they felt when they were together.
In short it became easier – which is how it should be.
What enabled this process to work was helping both people to understand their relationship with themselves and how their past and their thinking had shaped who they were and how they showed up.
I helped them become aware of their reactive out-of-control destructive patterns (their triggers) and this created a far more resourceful and far safer version of themselves.
This enabled them to choose what they bought to the relationship that would be of value not just for themselves, but also for each other and their future.
This win-win scenario was critical for their changes to last.
For us this work was life changing.
This couple worked hard and totally invested in the process and followed what I asked them to do outside of the sessions.