The Healthiest Example of Dealing with a Potential Divorce I’ve Ever Seen

She ducked.  She waited.  And it worked.

In an August 13, 2009 article published in The New York Times, Laura Munson described how her husband came home one day and said he wanted out of their marriage – that he didn’t love her any more.

Ms. Munson was stunned.  They’d had a good marriage and partnership, they’d achieved many of their goals, and life seemed happy and fulfilling.  This pronouncement – that he didn’t love her any more – seemed to come out of the blue.

Like countless others in her position, Laura Munson had to make an instantaneous decision on how to proceed at a time when she’d been sucker-punched.   Her very next words, her next actions, would determine not only the course of the frightening conversation at hand, but of her very life.

Unlike the vast majority of others in her position, Laura made an amazing decision.  She chose not to believe him.

Oh, she knew he thought he meant it.  She knew he was hurting, that he’d had some disappointments of late, that – she hoped – he believed he needed a fresh start, to assuage some wounds his ego and his sense of self as a man had borne.

But she chose to believe that he was saying hurtful things to her in the same way that an unhappy child will; that he was striking out the only way he knew how at the time, pushing against the perceived barriers to his happiness.

What happens next is the healthiest example of dealing with a potential divorce I’ve ever seen. In her writing, Laura Munson shows great class, courage and dignity… and ultimately saved her marriage.

We’ve all heard stories of those wounded spouses (partners/whatevers) who viciously retaliate when their partner wants out. They cry, they scream, they rage, they destroy property, they run up credit cards in the other spouse’s name, they trash the one who’s leaving the marriage to anyone who will listen, they manipulate the kids, family and friends into taking sides…

They show no class, no courage and no dignity.  And they destroy any chance of saving that relationship.  It’s as if they’re saying to the world, “I love him and I’m going to prove it by showing the gods how wounded I am.  I really really love him, but give me more nails to drive into this coffin dammit”.

Laura Munson proved that she loved him by first understanding that he was in pain, and second by making the situation about his pain, not about her.  She gave him the time he needed to work through his pain in a classy, dignified and courageous fashion.

And it worked.

Brava, Ms. Munson.  Brava!

To read the article, go here:    http://theweek.com/article/index/99512/he-said-he-was-leaving-she-ignored-him

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Really, Ladies… He Can’t Read Your Mind

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Why does my marriage work – and work so amazingly well?

Communication.

Yeah, I know.  You’ve heard it all before.  “Communicate with your spouse. Talk about your needs, your hopes, your dreams, your fears, your anxieties and little irritations.  Work through them, and you’ll have a great relationship.”

But you’ve tried and he doesn’t listen.  Or maybe he seems to but then he does (or doesn’t do) the same thing the next time.  And you can’t figure out why he doesn’t seem to care because after all, you wouldn’t dream of being so cavalier about things that are important to him.

Let’s take a pretty basic example, and say he forgets to put his socks and underwear in the hamper.  Instead, he just drops them on the floor and there they sit.   So you have to pick the items up yourself and toss them in the laundry.

Socks

Or his concept of “doing the dishes” is to “do the dishes” and nothing else.  The mat under the drainer doesn’t get washed, the stove doesn’t get washed, and the counters don’t get cleaned up.   So after he’s done with the dishes, you have to clean up after him.

Stove

Annoying, huh?

Yes, it can be.  If you allow it to be.  Or you can “communicate”.

Unfortunately, too many women think that communicating involves having your man read your mind.   I know; I’ve been there. “Look at this mess!” you sigh, pointing dramatically and world-wearily to the socks on the floor (or the grease splatters on the stove).  “Mess?” he asks, confused.  “Your socks are on the floor!”  And he looks briefly befuddled, then hurriedly picks up the offending items, tosses them in the laundry and starts to head off.

Man with Laundry 2

And you’re ready to shriek.  And may, in fact, do so if this is the 137th time you’ve complained about the socks.

And he’s confused.  After all, the problem is solved, right?  The socks are in the laundry.  So why are you standing there, annoyed, and acting as though this man who is a complete brainiac at the office is a total doofus at home?

Here’s where you get to communicate.  “Before you leave for work every day, please pick up your socks and put them in the hamper.”

It’s that simple.  No drama, no sighs, no expecting him to read your mind, no picking up after him.  Just a simple statement of what you want done.    If he doesn’t do it, leave them there.  But don’t do it as a punishment, or as a passive-aggressive way of getting even; do it as a consequence.  If he doesn’t pick them up, they won’t go into the laundry. And they won’t get washed.

The next day, repeat “Before you leave for work, please pick up your socks and put them in the hamper”.

Why should I have to do that?  you may ask.  Shouldn’t he just get it?  He’s not a child!

And there’s the rub.  That attitude, the “I have to handle everything, he’s behaving like a child, he should know better” long-suffering dialogue you have with yourself is the problem, not the socks.

Man with Laundry

If you want something, just tell him.  If it doesn’t get done, tell him again.  As long as you do it without drama or impatience, most men will gladly try to remember to do whatever it is to make you happy.

By the way, this goes for sex, too.

If there’s something intimate you want him to do or think you would like, tell him.  Don’t expect him to read your mind.  Just tell him.   (More on this in a future blog.)

To be continued…

Love Talk

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John is a typical man from the Baby Boomer era.  He wasn’t raised to express his feelings, and isn’t comfortable with verbal exchanges of love-struck happiness during those times when he’s “expected” to say them.   So, like many men of his age, his silence could be taken for a lack of caring, when truly, nothing could be further from the truth.

I’ve tried to institute a game with him that I thought might make it easier to get those words out, but it hasn’t gone over so well. The “Tell Me Something Nice” prompt usually elicits a response like “No, I can’t…. it’s raining out”.  Or “No, I can’t… I’m asleep”.  Or “No, I can’t… I have a bullet lodged between my teeth from saving the West”.

This morning I tried a new tactic.  We’d gotten up and taken the dogs out, fed them their breakfast, and decided to climb back into bed, pups and all.  (The three dogs are not allowed on the bed after lights out at night, but this was just a morning snuggle.)

John was ready to fall back to sleep, but I was in one of those yappy moods.  “You sleep while I talk at you.”

Grunt.

Okay, he’s still awake.

Repeat after me.  ‘I am a lucky man.  I have an awesome wife.'”

Dead silence.

Do it!  Repeat after me.  ‘I am a lucky man.  I have an awesome wife.'”

His breathing, slow and measured, sounded like someone who was on the verge of falling asleep.  I waited a bit, but it seemed there would be nothing further coming from the Hubs.  Just as I was about to begin pushing my way through the dogs so I could get out of bed, a very low and deep voice said….

“I am an awesome man.  I have a lucky wife.”

HA!!

He’s right.

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