By Kristy Gaisford, LCSW
A few weeks ago, my husband and I had a little spat. And by that, I mean a pretty big argument. Voices were raised, accusations made, and feelings were hurt on both sides. It ended with my husband saying, “I don’t want to be around you and your bad mood!” “Fine!” I said and angrily left to sleep in another room.
In the Relationship Boot Camp, we teach that we have to deal with the partner we have, not the one we deserve.
That night, I was sure that I deserved a sensitive man who would come into the room, take me in his arms, tell me he’s sorry he hurt me and ask me to tell him all about my feelings. He would then comfort me and reassure me that he loved me, he believed in me, and everything would be okay.
Well, that’s not the man I got that night. And to be honest, he was probably hoping for a much better partner at that moment too.
The next day, I played things over in my mind. I don’t like feeling unsettled and disconnected from my partner. After hours of him not reaching out, I realized that if I wanted a repair, it was up to me. I forced myself to think about everything I had done to contribute to the problem. At first, my thoughts kept skipping to, “yeah, but HE…”
But after a while I was able to see my own lack of humility, my criticism and judgment of my partner and my reactivity.
I then prayed to be able to see my husband’s heart and the hurt I had caused. Before then, I was stuck on my Core Negative Image of him and couldn’t see past the caricature, to see into his heart. I was able to see a good man, with good intentions, who was also unsure of how to please me or how to move forward. In his fear of making things worse, he had chosen to do nothing.
When I got home that afternoon, I decided that I wanted to repair things. I didn’t want to stay in this disconnected state. When I crossed the room to talk to my husband, I had to choke down my ego, that whispered “why do you have to be the one to apologize first? Shouldn’t he be apologizing?”
After wrestling my ego aside, I said, “I’m sorry about last night. I was critical and reactive and I’m sorry I hurt you.”
Then a miraculous thing happened. My husband took me in his arms and said, “Thank you. I know I owed you an apology. I’m really sorry. Thank you for going first.” My husband became the man I deserved!
David Burns said, “if you want a great relationship, first you have to kill your own ego.” Sometimes we have to go first, even when it doesn’t seem fair. But does it matter if in the end, we get the relationship we want? I know this is easier said than done. It took me a night and half a day to get there. But I challenge you to take the first step, cross the room, it’s in your best interest and hey, you may just get the partner you deserve.