I mentioned in my post about my new goals for this blog that I was taking questions, and actually got one from a commenter that same night! I'm STOKED!
The question was: How did you survive a near divorce? Well, to make a long story short, communication.
Now, I'll elaborate. In this major low point of our marriage, there was no infidelity. I have been changing as an individual for the past couple of years. In a 8.5 year marriage, it's not unexpected for individuals to change; however, my husband felt, and still feels, that I changed very quickly. It felt like a slap in the face. Especially when so much of me was changing; and how I identified sexually was the biggest issue for him. (I'll save the explanation of my sexual orientation for another day, not that it needs to be addressed, unless inquiring minds want to know that badly!) The biggest issue, for me, was feeling like I wasn't being treated with respect.
There were huge fights. Threats of divorce. Threats of custody battles. Many threats. Many hurtful things were said. It came right down to the point where we both had to make the conscious choice to either stay and try as hard as we can to make it work, or cut our losses and start over. We decided to fight. Whether we chose it because we didn't want to lose each other, or whether we wanted to do this for the sake of our children, none of that mattered. Whatever our individual reasons were, we chose to try and make it work. (Bah! For the sake of full-disclosure, I'll admit that I chose mostly because I love him.)
That was the turning point. The choice. Making the decision to stay and fight allowed us to lower our defenses and actually communicate for the first time in months. Now that we knew that both of us were going to try and make this work, sharing our feelings and fears openly was less scary. We knew that the other was still going to be there even when all the issues were on the table.
You may be wondering why "we saw a counselor" isn't part of the scenario. (Since I want to be a therapist, I will say that you should be wondering that. Counseling is a huge piece of the puzzle for making a marriage in distress work.) The simple answer is that we did see a counselor, a few years ago, for other issues. We knew how to communicate. We knew the tools. It was simply a matter of being rededicated to making it work in order for us to access those tools. We did, also, see a counselor this time as well. Once. Finances kept us from returning, but even the first (and only) session helped us map out the issues we needed to address, and that was huge for us.
So, now... How do you survive a near divorce? Choice, Counseling, and Communication. Hm, the 3-Cs of repairing a marriage? Should I patent that?