These were the words from a woman that months before swore blind that her marriage was dead. She was thanking her husband for not giving up the fight to save his relationship and family.
Months before she sat in my office telling me that she would explore the relationship, but her mind was made up, she wasn’t in love with her husband and she had to leave.
She also presented a relationship history that essentially said she never really loved him and she had made a mistake marrying him.
To him this was a total contradiction of his experience, he even bought up letters and cards of love that she had written to him over the years. She denied any of it was real and she was playing a part.
He came to explore the possibility of solving this challenge with me. From his perspective she had totally changed in behaviour, what she said didn’t make sense, he felt like he was living with a totally different woman.
When I first met this lady she was resolved in her explanation of her feelings. She felt nothing for her husband and couldn’t live a lie just for her children.
She was prepared to explore the relationship, but only for her children’s sake.
Her history told us how she had learnt to keep her feelings within her. She had learnt early in life that communicating her emotions would only lead to bad things happening to her.
This meant her husband was totally unaware of the challenges she was really facing, because her pattern of behaviour lead her to deal with her problems on her own.
She had tried getting upset with her husband in the past, but her husband misunderstood her cry for help, by defending himself and getting angry with her. This lead to a confirmation that she wasn’t safe to open up and so she remained shut down.
Historically this woman was looking for a life she could control. So she found a man she could depend on. She found a man she knew her parents would love.
As any couple will discover with me relationships and love cannot be controlled.
She needed to control because she needed to feel emotionally safe, sadly her behaviours and interpretation of her husbands behaviours had made her feel so unsafe she used a mechanism to help her feel better…
…that process was to numb her emotional self.
This process is the very process that when practised will enable a loss of feelings and help her feel out of love with him.
In essence she had spent so long protecting herself from her husband, (who wasn’t trying to hurt her) it had resulting in her falling out of love with him.
Of course the husband was not perfect and had lots to learn, but based on what he knew he had done his best.
His frustration was that nothing he did worked, he couldn’t believe things were this bad for her and so his frustration over the years had lead him to protect himself from her seeming lack of love towards him.
Their combined actions were killing their relationship.
The moment she told him it was over, his perspective changed away from himself and her lack of love to a clear mission to get her back into the relationship.
The mission from my perspective was clear. Help him create consistent behaviours that were most likely to keep her safe and help her to feel safe to open up to him.
Highly motivated he followed every instruction, by contrast her motivation was low she just wanted the pain to stop quickly. She had emotionally left the relationship and so the mission was to help her reconnect emotionally with her true essence so she could evaluate what she wanted to do from that new perspective.
This meant collapsing old patterns that were trying to protect her, but had actually made life impossible for her and replace them with ones that would actually work.
With support from external family that she respected and an effective shift from her husband and increasing curiosity on her part she started to see she could feel safe in the relationship this meant an emotional connection was possible.
Her husband stood strong and loved her through this horrible time, but this time was different, instead of disconnection they ended with her connecting to his love and this time a love she could believe in.
He told me over the phone how she had thanked him for not giving up on her. She told him that she now feels so different, but back then she really couldn’t find a way out of her darkness back to him.
My message today is that feelings are not permanent and can change with new perspectives.