I see it happening all the time. And it makes me sad.
I’ve had so many couple friends split up because of the deconstruction of their beliefs… of one or both of them.
You already know my story. Lisa and I almost didn’t make it. It took years to finally figure out how to love one another in fresh, new, and exciting ways.
I’ve already written about this before because it’s such a huge problem.
And in a recent podcast, MindShift, we talked a lot about it.
I can’t count how many people I’ve coached through this traumatic process.
There are three basic ingredients you need to get through it, if you want to.
1. Memory: Remember what drew you together, what attracted you to each other, and what you loved about each other. That’s the essence of your relationship. For me, I’ll be honest, I was first attracted to Lisa because she was the hottest girl on campus. Then, when I started to get to know her, I was attracted to her feistiness, her strong will and independence, her deep wisdom, and her zest for life. Her beliefs weren’t even on the list. Sure, we assumed a lot. But, forty years later, Lisa still possesses those same essential attributes, including still being hot, and that’s what makes her so desirable to me and contributes to our sturdy relationship. Always has. Figuring out our different beliefs is a game played upon this sturdy board. Just remember why you’re even together in the first place!
2. Grace: Have grace for yourself and grace for your spouse. Don’t judge. You’re not watching a snapshot, you’re watching a movie. You’re observing the wonderful unfolding of an individual’s life in remarkable ways… yours and your spouse’s. Trust that they know what’s best for themselves, just like you’re trusting yourself to know what’s best for you. The journey of explorers is never in a straight line, but zigzagging all over the place, sometimes back, sometimes forward, but always towards the destination, whatever that is… which you don’t know until you get there. We are strange and wonderful human beings. Appreciate that! Be as gracious as you were with each other in your earliest days.
3. Patience: When deconstruction set in for Lisa and me, it was frightening. We had never ever navigated these waters before. They were strange, dangerous, and completely unpredictable. We had to paddle by the seat of our pants because not much had been written about this stuff before. No one told us, for example, that it was going to be a couple of years before we would start feeling stable or even in love again. There were times, literally, when bags were packed and we were heading our separate ways. I hate recalling those moments because we really nearly ended a really good thing. I had friends advising me to just do what made me happy. But I didn’t trust myself though. I was confused. So, I made an important conclusion that I advise other people to follow too: Do NOT make a decision during confusing times. Wait for clarity! I’m so glad I did. Lisa and I waited for clarity. It took years, but it was so worth it. We’re still together and better than we’ve ever been as a married couple. Get through this desert. There is an oasis on the other side of it. Promise. Be patient!
I always provide a disclaimer with this topic: Some marriages don’t make it. Some people decide they were never meant to be married in the first place, or realize that their marriage was never a good one to start with, or decide that there’s just too much damage done to repair it. All these reasons, and more, are valid. I support people through these painful transitions as well. And I see many of them come through the other side of separation and divorce as happier and healthier people with a hopeful life ahead of them.
Memory, grace, and patience. These will help your marriage survive deconstruction.
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