Couple Sitting Together Watch Sunset

Closeness Guaranteed

For the ten years that followed Hal worked on the issues and never complained about what he thought was her resentment or detachment from him. He thought he was being a good person by accepting the way Sally had become. He was a fine husband in every way; except that the love between them was now more dutiful than robust.

She never commented on the ways he had improved and neither of them did any research to solve their intimacy problem. They quit looking for solutions because they both presumed the other one was stuck in his or her ways and unable to change.

Since her passing, Hal read everything he could get his hands on about relationships. It took three years for him to find the explanation he needed. He had told himself all along that he loved her the way she was. Behind his hurt he saw himself as the more innocent one. The part that he couldn’t see was that while he was acting stoic; he was also withholding love because he was mad. It was unexpressed anger what kept him speechless all those years.

Neither of them would start the conversation that would have released their tension. They gave up all the closeness they could have had for an apology that would be forgotten before the end of the day. Hal had waited until there was nobody to apologize to or forgive.

Anger hurts both parties. Apologizing is a sincere sign of love and an endearing quality. The affection you get from resolving your issues far exceeds anything you can gain by clinging to your pride, resentment, hurt, anger or holding the righteous high ground. If you love someone enough you will compete to be the first person to apologize whether it was your fault or the other person’s fault. Sometimes a spouse can need an apology and you can give them relief by doing so even though you are completely innocent. Those are opportunities, not obligations.

Make your spouse more important than your ego or anger. Break the tension and get your matter out in the open today. Do it for both of you. Life is short.

Understandings that Bond:

  • There isn’t anything about you that I don’t like.
  • Our Relationship is more important than this issue.
  • We both need to feel heard and know that our thoughts are being considered fairly.
  • The decisions we make are always open to change.
  • Most of the times I want you to act on what I say rather than what you think I mean.
  • Women need to feel that they are worth fighting for. If you don’t work through your hurt and address your issues with her, your unspoken message to her is that she is not. That makes the person who is not.
  • Your spouse is not stuck in his or her ways; you just need to do a better job of making your case or working around the issue.

Assumptions that Bond:

  • “Unloaders” all remember stating their arguments but not the offensive or hurtful way they delivered them. Let their manner go.
  • When the unloader is unnecessarily forceful they have given themselves permission to disrespect you. (And that naturally makes you less cooperative and more likely to resent them, close up, stonewall and avoid them.)
  • The strength of a person’s anger is a measure of how important the subject matter is to them, not how much you are disliked by them.
  • Assume that the intentions of the unloader were good and their logic, no matter how wrong, made sense to them at one time.
  • If you allow a hurt to linger, like a tumor on our ego, it is likely to grow and crowd out a lot of good living.
  • Anger hurts both parties but hurts the one who harbors it more.
  • Act as if your spouse is not stuck; he or she just needs to be sold. Make a case with better information, expert opinions, a better plan, a way to work around his or her objections.
  • When you quit looking for ideas there are thousands you have not found; keep looking!
  • Make your spouse more important to you than your ego or anger.
  • Use the Peace Process and Bonding Steps in Topic F-9.
  • I will act on the parts of the solution we agree on and remain open to new thinking on the parts that we don’t.
  • When we reach impasses, we will try to remain open and act on all those portions of the decision we do agree on.
  • When you insist on an answer and your spouse reacts a little harshly, he may not be mad at you in the slightest. He may be struggling to find the words or time to tell you something that he thinks could be hurtful to you. What sounds like anger is his discomfort with having to make the comments poorly and before he is ready.

If an apology is needed, try to be the first to do so. Do it for both of you. Life is short.