Study Her Through a New Lens
Something that has struck my mind in creating this material is that I don’t want to give the impression that we know what’s best for you. We’re a group of people with a group of ideas about what works for some, definitely not all. We sincerely hope that we’re giving you a wide range of possibilities and ideas and that some will assist you in thinking in other ways and inspire a new set of approaches to your marriage. By all means, don’t look to us as the experts on your marriage. We aren’t sleeping next to your wife and we aren’t living in your body with your set of unique experiences. Who’s the expert on your marriage if we aren’t? That’s right, you are. You have her right in front of you. You know what you’re thinking in response to her. You know what it’s like to live in your home. You see when she’s happy and when she’s miserable. You have loads of useful information at your fingertips and in your bed to give you great insight about how to improve your relationship, right now.
So I’m here to be your personal guide and coach to exploring your wife in a brand new way. Let me start with some thoughts on why so many couples wind up in conflict in committed relationships. Much of how we experience others is based upon our conditioning. This comes in the form of the messages and images (both direct and implied) from our families, our religions, the media and our culture, just to name a few. According to these messages, we form ideas and ideals about how and what people should look and behave like. We put the things we like and value into the GOOD category and the things we dislike and deem unworthy in the bad category. Though this classification is meant to simplify things for us, it also means that we categorize things in a very black and white sort of way, which creates a great deal of rigidity. Simply put, as long as people look and act in alignment with the stuff in the GOOD pot, life is great. When they don’t (and rarely do), we put them in the mush pot and experience them and our life experience as bad, miserable and difficult.
This lack of flexibility creates discomfort for us and as a result, we spend a great deal of time attempting to control others and get them to do what we want them to do, for we think this sameness will lead to happiness. This can come in the form of guilting, blaming, shaming or their more sophisticated cousins, morality, improvement or spirituality. Whatever you call it, the attempt to change someone else comes from our lack of tolerance for differences and the assumption that we’ll only be happy if people agree with us and act like us. I’m here to say that you didn’t marry a carbon copy of yourself for a reason and your wife is not here to meet your ideas of what she should be. Radical thought, eh? No, I’m a radical feminist, as I would say that you’re not here to be what she wants you to be either. Rather, you’re here to experience life together and learn valuable lessons from one another, one giant one is that difference is not only ok, but it makes life interesting, exciting and provides us the chance to become better versions of ourselves.
Open your mind up to the possibility that you can come to value the differences between you and then you can become more tolerant when things aren’t so harmonious. You can reframe this as an opportunity to consider an alternative way of seeing the world and yourself. You may be saying to yourself that you like the way you see the world and that you’d prefer that other people would see it that way too. If we were meant to stick with our original way of seeing things, then we’d never have evolved from the Stone Age and would still be living in caves and wearing loincloths (though that sounds like a pretty kinky sex scene to me…). Consider the fact that you and your wife are here to help one another grow and that the differences between you may make your lives together interesting and stimulating.
I hear some loud voices in your head arguing with me about wanting your wife to have sex when you want her to, wanting her to agree to your way of managing money, hoping she would go along with way of parenting…all because you want to be RIGHT! (By the way, women do the exact same thing, this isn’t unique to men.) We judge constantly because we can’t tolerate differences and our egos want sameness; it doesn’t want to let go of its ideas and notions. If she went along with your efforts to run the show all the time, how interesting would that be? You’d get your way, she’d have little say and then you’d get bored and seek out a total bitch to offer you some excitement. What you think you want (it’s really what the ego wants) and what is really best for your long term contentment and happiness are oftentimes two very different things. Though you’re thinking you want what you want, what you really want is to grow, to be challenged and to have new and different experiences in life. It’s what makes life rich and juicy.
I know that this has been loads of philosophical talk and now it’s time to think about how to apply this different way of seeing things. I want you to look at your wife with a new lens. Instead of putting her traits and characteristics into the GOOD box or very, very bad box, try to simply observe her, like a scientist would. Take notice of her tendencies, of her traits and her behavior. Do this without judgment and don’t put a value next to what you see. Do this over the course of a week. Do your best not to be reactive or critical of your observations…see yourself as someone in a white lab coat, who’s taking notes on a test subject’s behavior.
Next, consider the following:
- Are the very traits that you once found intriguing, sexy and interesting in the beginning of your relationship now annoy and irritate you because she still does them, despite your requests for her to change?
- Have you considered that these traits are neither good nor bad, but simply a part of her?
- Could you benefit from allowing her to be who she is?
- How much would you admire or respect her if she were to easily acquiesce to your desire to change her?
- Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?
Consider the possibility that those differences keep you interested in her and that she’s not doing these things to you…not to agitate you or to make your life miserable. Perhaps these traits are simply a part of who she is and you can either fight it, spend all of your time and energy making her wrong for it or blaming her for your unhappiness…OR…you could see this as part of her and if you were to accept that, you could get on with finding things to love about her. By the way, I’m not suggesting that disrespect and mistreatment are things that you should accept; I’m talking about the differences in personality, style and philosophy that are sources of friction between you.
I hope that this got some juices flowing inside and as I’ve said before, if I’ve pissed you off, I’m doing something right…I’m getting things moving inside of you and that’s the best place to be. Just like a growing reptile, you have to shed old skin before the new can take its place. Though the molting process is oftentimes an ugly one, consider the feel of the slippery new skin you’ll be in.