I remember a time halfway through our process of being counseled when I reached a point where I was ready to give up. We were about a year into it, and it seemed that no matter what I did or how diligent I was, it was not going to be enough for Nan. She seemed like a bottomless pit of needs and wants from me. As a man who had a high need to feel adequate (like all men), I was becoming discouraged and doubtful whether this counseling thing and this marriage thing was actually going to work over the long haul.
On the flip side of this, Nan was thinking “Isn’t he ever going to get it? I keep telling him and coaching him and encouraging him and being vulnerable with my feelings. Why doesn’t he completely ‘get me’ yet?”
These were the negative dialogs going on in our heads. But the truth was somewhat different. I was starting to understand and was responding much more appropriately, and she was becoming much more kind and yielded towards me. But we were both scared.
Subsequently, I discovered that there was a place of “enough” for her. She became trusting that our new way of dealing with each other was more than just temporary. Our anxiety in the relationship went down and our contentment went up.
Up until that point we both felt blamed by the other person, and alone in our self-righteousness. We were stuck. Both of us were impatient for change and did not like having to suffer. We really did believe that if only the other person would change, everything would be fine. The turning point came when we both acknowledged our part in the difficulties.
The element that was needed to reach this place was endurance.
It took a lot longer than we had hoped. But the damage was significant and the deficits were large. Just like a house that had been neglected for a long time, the rehabilitation took patience and effort. But our endurance produced results that continue to pay dividends.
So for all of you who are struggling and discouraged, do not give up hope. Roll up your sleeves and get to work. Stop talking about change and do something toward that goal. Make a plan, commit the time, and be prepared to endure the process until you are satisfied with the results. Often the only thing blocking the way is our own pride.