January 15, 2011 8 Comments
In a few weeks I will have been married—for the second time—7 years.
By this time in my first marriage I was thoroughly confused and my wife was thoroughly depressed. I so didn’t get it.
I will never forget the day—sitting on the white L-shaped couch talking again to Sharon, my first wife. We had had these conversations many times before. She wasn’t happy. I didn’t get why. She tried to explain, again.
At some point I suggested what I thought was an impossible idea, but she had been hinting that this was true. This is what good communication does, I would later learning. We repeat back what we think we hear the other person saying. This is always a good idea when we are not sure. This day, I just stumbled onto this technique.
“Are you saying I am pretty much a crummy husband?” The real sense of the question was, “Well, you are not saying am just a crummy husband, are you?” (Like that would be impossible, but just to be sure, let’s get that out of the way.)
Her silence was not very reassuring.
That day is marked in my mind as the beginning of 13 miserable years of struggling to find happiness in marriage. Countless hours of counseling. Reading 50 or so books. Two full weeks of counseling in Colorado. Lots of tears. Lots and lots of tears.
Countless nights I came home thinking, “Is this it? Is this the night I will come home to an empty house and a note saying, ‘I am leaving. I just couldn’t take it anymore.’” I was always relieved when I saw her car in the driveway.
Eventually, at year 18, we had another conversation on the couch. Sharon said to me, “I want you to read this and then we can talk about it.” I still get a pit in my stomach thinking about it. The beginning line read, “I am leaving. . .”
Two months later, we were divorced.
Long story. . . five years later I got married again. I thought going in that I had learned so much the first time that the second time around would be much easier. Sharon had even told me so. One night she said to me, “You are going to make a great husband. . . for someone else. I just don’t have any feelings for you anymore.”
Happily, I was right. All I had learned the first time around has made marriage much better the second time around. Not that we don’t have bumps along the way. We do. But, we have a good marriage. I would say, even a great marriage.
This blog is about the lessons I learned. It is a summary of 50 books I read and lessons that were not in any of them.