Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Plot Thickens - WDIHTC Part 2 (by Ron)

Then I met Gayle! She was something totally new. I was a country boy. She was a city girl. I was a child of the fifties. She grew up in the sixties. Our age gap is almost 15 years. We were like oil and water (May-December) and as you know, oil and water don’t mix. But she surely was exciting and lo and behold, we eventually married. If you have ever ridden a really high and fast roller coaster with lots of climbs and drops you know about the first few years of our marriage.

One day I was sitting in my office with a couple I was counseling. We’ll call them James and Judy. They had been married for nine years and had two children. James had been raised by a father like me who was a product of the innocent age when everyone knew their job and place in life. Judy had been raised by younger parents who were products of the sixties and seventies.

“Why do I have to change?” James was asking. “I’m coming home from work earlier. I’m drinking less. I’m trying to be better about yelling at the kids. I’ve done so many things I’ve never done before and it’s still not enough! She’s still after me to make more changes! Why do I have to be the one to change and not her? Why can’t she just accept me the way I am?”

I couldn’t recall how many times I had heard that question from both men and women in couples counseling, but it was a lot. It continues to be one of the questions I am asked most often as a marriage counselor.

I don’t remember the first time I asked the same question but I know I did. I’m not even sure I said it out loud but I was certainly yelling it in my head. “What more does she want? When will I be enough for her? When will I finally be doing what she wants or not doing what she doesn’t want? Why do I have to be the one to change even more? Why can’t she accept me the way I am? The next thought or verbalization was often; “I love her the way she is, why can’t she love me the same way?” But was I being a hypocrite? (more to follow...)

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