I have been married for what will be 12 years in May of 2019. I have had many experiences in my marriage that sometimes take couples an entire lifetime to sift through. When we got married we were very close. He and I were inseparable. When he came home from Iraq, he changed. Please see my posts on A Journey Through Struggle Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 for more details on my journey. I am going to gloss over quite a bit of it, and talk about one major point here. REKINDLING THE FLAME.
What Exactly Causes a Flame to go Out or to Die Down?
Folks, this is a normal phase in many marriages. Life moves us as a couple, but sometimes life moves us as individuals. It is often neither party’s fault. For example, my spouse experienced things and grew in ways I did not see while serving in Iraq. It changed him. When he came home, he did not talk much. He was very closed off. No expression. No outward signs of love. No hugs. Cold. Angry. A bitter man. It makes me cringe to think of this.
Some of your situations may or may not be as extreme. It could be a job change for your husband that is causing him stress and to close off. It can be a situation where he has changes in friendships or a death in the family. The thing is, most men are not an open book, where as women, we tend to be very telling.
How Do We React?
Well, let me start off with my initial reaction. If I knew then what I knew now I would not have reacted the way I did. My reaction was cold, angry, hurt. I did nothing to try at fix it, I tried to make him pay for my pain. I wanted him to hurt as bad as I did. Yuck. It makes me sick to admit such things. You live and learn. I learned and that is the important thing.
This reaction led to a worsening of situations. It led to endless fights, late nights, screaming, sleeping alone, and crying.
How you react will directly affect the outcome and the way you as an individual and as a couple come out of this tough time.
Action is a Far Better Response
I clearly remember one day, thinking to myself, I MISS YOU! I sat in my bedroom and cried for what seemed like hours. I was at a loss. I was tired of being married but feeling alone. I don’t even remember why, but this was his idea, we were going to go out and play pool at Paddy’s. We did, often. It was some of the first conversations that we had in some time. We always made sure to go when the bar was empty so the crowds would not be a factor. He began forcing himself to take me to these Jack and Jill tournaments at the American Legion to show me he still cared. He suffered through a great deal of pain and anxiety to do these things, and did it without complaint. It was then I realized he DID care but was lost in his own pain. Every Friday night he took me out and we began conversing again.
His action made me realized I needed to meet him in the middle. My next move was to begin learning his passions. I had to step inside his comfort zone to find him again. So, I learned all about the Seattle Mariners. I learned the roster, the positions, the news. I began bringing up the latest Mariner’s news just to foster some discussions. I did the same thing with my husband’s football team, The Green Bay Packers.
You might think “Well he needs to do what I WANT HIM TO DO.” You might think he needs to indulge in your interests. But in the interest of your relationship, is selfish desires really what is needed at this time? Or is rekindling the flame more important? The answer is obvious.
Feel free to comment below on your experience with a dying flame and how you are rekindling it.