If you passed her on the sidewalk, you’d never know Jessica* was carrying an unbearable weight on her shoulders. At first glance, she had it all. A steady job, beautiful kids, and what appeared to be a sound marriage.
Let’s back up to that last part. The “sound marriage” part.
While Jessica seemingly lived a picture-perfect life, she was miserable behind closed doors. Picking fights with her husband over the smallest of things only made matters worse. She didn’t know why she felt the way she did, but she let resentment consume her nonetheless.
Jessica felt she and her husband, Bill*, were completely disconnected.
When Bill was home, he wasn’t present (he was always on his phone or computer). He showed little interest in Jessica or their middle school-aged children. When he wasn’t home (which was most of the time), he was always out playing golf or watching football with his friends.
“SOS. I need your help.”
Jessica was getting sick and tired of trying to fight for her relationship. She was losing interest in Bill and wasn’t sure she wanted to stick around for their dead-end marriage.
Jessica had heard about my one-on-one relationship coaching services from a friend of a friend. She sent me an email that said:
SOS. I need your help. I don’t even know you, but I’ve heard you have helped a lot of people I know, so can I please schedule a power hour session ASAP. My husband shows no interest in our relationship and I am not sure I can stand being married to him for one more day.
And with that, Jessica completed her first (and most important step): owning her truth and asking for help.
When I began to work with Jessica, I asked her what her biggest struggle was:
My husband sucks, she said. He doesn’t pay attention to me. He does nothing with our kids. He always has his face in his electronics. He tries to be out of the house as much as he can. And, what I hate the most is that he practically grunts when I try to talk to him. He can’t communicate for sh*t.
Tell me about the last time you tried to express your feelings to him. What did you say? How did it go? I asked.
I told him I was fed up with him. That he was a horrible husband and father. I told him he was selfish and didn’t care about anyone but himself. I cried and told him if he didn’t start spending more time at home and less time off his electronics that I was going to take the kids and leave.
And then what happened?
He shut down. He called me a miserable bitch and told me I need to get help. He went into another room and slammed the door. We haven’t spoken for days.
Understanding The Drama Cycle & Why Our Brains Never Turn Off
Jessica and Bill are in the midst of a drama cycle. Jessica is feeling sad, lonely, hurt and insecure, and is dealing with these emotions through angry threats and demands. She gets mad and starts yelling in order to be heard.
Bill is feeling unappreciated, attacked and unsupported, and is dealing with those emotions by fleeing the scene. He escapes Jessica’s moods and threats by golfing, working, and drinking.
Neither of them is getting their needs met, and both of them are frustrated and unfulfilled. They ignore each other until they both cool off and then slowly start talking again so that it’s bearable to be under the same roof.
Anger, hurt, loneliness still ensues, however; it just lingers below the surface, ready to bubble up again once one of them is triggered.
Putting In The Work
Jessica and I start digging in…. We identified her inner fears; we talked about her jealousy, self-loathing, and insecurity. We talked about ways in which Jessica fills her own bucket. We address her dreams and desires. Her goals and aspirations. We talked about her triggers. And how she copes with her struggles. We dug into her painful past. Old baggage. What makes her tick; sets her off. And so on and so forth.
As you can see, we don’t talk about Bill. And although the problem Jessica presented was Bill’s behavior, she quickly discovered her role in the marriage and her role as an individual.
Here’s the thing, Jessica’s first inclination was to point the finger at Bill. To blame him for being so selfish and standoffish. She wanted to nitpick all the things he was doing wrong.
Isn’t that what we all want to do? Find fault in the other person and prove to ourselves and the world that our partner is off his/her rocker…and that our own behavior is just fine, thank you.
We don’t want to own our sh*t. That’s simply no fun.
So, we continue for months, years, and even decades in our drama cycles, just barely surviving this thing we call relationships. But that doesn’t have to be the way things are – we just need a little coaching to live our best lives.
Taking Responsibility For Ourselves
In her Power Hour, I equipped Jessica with the tools required to gain a sense of self-awareness. This empowered her healing journey beyond our time together. She was ready to deal with her sh*t and by taking responsibility for her own role within her marriage.
Jessica and Bill’s story isn’t unusual. In fact, it’s more common than we think. When issues come up with our partners, we go into autopilot and respond/behave however we can to feel safe, protected, and heard.
Unfortunately, in school, we were never taught how to deal with problems with our partners and we certainly didn’t learn how to recognize and repair our OWN inner struggles. The best we got was an article in Vogue or something of the like.
In the end, Jessica put in the work. She identified what positive and negative traits she learned from her parents and how she manifests them in her current relationship.
She identified her fears and how they were holding her back from creating her best life. She understood that she was counting on Bill to fill her bucket instead of filling her own.
She learned how she contributes to the relationship – both positively and negatively – and how she has the power to change the trajectory of their marriage. All because she went outside of her comfort zone and asked for help.
If Jessica’s story resonates with you, know there’s so much more to relationships than what we see on TV or read in books. Humans are complex and thus, it takes a lot of time and effort to understand the people we’re in relationships with – including understanding ourselves.
Schedule Your Power Hour
If you’re curious about how one-on-one relationship coaching can help you live a better life, I’d love to chat. Contact me directly today to get started.
*The names used in this success story have been changed to protect client confidentiality.