Here's a link to the index for this series
My last post was a pretty sad story. Things were really tough for me. In talking to several people as well as my parents, I think things have eased up a bit. Part of it has to do with my personality. I tend to ignore or literally remain unaware of messes for sometime and then go into full-out-attack mode and clean like a madman until I'm satisfied. Perhaps that's what's happened over the past two years. On and off, I've had glimpses that something isn't right. But I've not really dug in to figure out what it is. Thus, I continue to have recurring bouts of acute negativity toward my situation.
Well, I thought I'd write whilst singing a different tune. I had a bit of a change in mindset driving home from work the other day, and I thought I'd share about it. Before explaining the change, there's some background. I expressed my hesitancy and feelings of emptiness about my social group and marriage to my wife last week. Perhaps not a great move, but it was being honest. That led, as expected, to quite a bit of marital strife and hurt feelings. Perhaps I overreacted. On my behalf, all I can say is that the last two weeks have been extremely difficult. I've had a massive feeling of being drowned in things like:
-- Thinking no one really respects me because I believe differently
-- Extreme intolerance of attitudes that seek to exert belief-based outcomes on others without having justification for said beliefs
-- Feeling like I would experience relief if I just ran away and started over in terms of a new social group
-- Feeling very, very, very alone, not understood or related to, isolated, etc.
That was an ugly situation. I still have those issues and will be seeing a counselor of some sort (either our previous couple's counselor or Marlene Winell) to attempt some resolution. I realize that my instinct is to run away. It feels like if I just left all of my past behind, I'd also leave behind the pain of separation/differences as well. This doesn't take into account future pains, though, such as loneliness, time delay in rebuilding friendships, and frustrations in trial and error in new-best-friend-finding. Anyway, my point is to paint the picture that I felt like I was in a burning building and thus wanted to run, but there wasn't necessarily a lot of thought about which way to head.
The other day, however, I had a shift in perspective. Rather than just focusing on the problem (burning building -> run), perhaps this could be a problem to solve. I love studying and analyzing things. I tried to get this across in my multi-level marketing analysis series. I used google scholar to track down 45 published scientific papers about marital success/failure predictors and factors. Rather than remain hopeless, I can be informed about the factors affecting satisfaction. Specifically, perhaps common interests and/or religion will turn out to be dominated by some other variable(s). If I know those variables, I have some knobs to tweak.
You may be reading this and thinking, "Yeah, right. This is ridiculous!" Maybe so. But for now, using my innate drive to fix problems and research is a good thing. It keeps me able to envision a future self that can share the results of this research to help others, especially if I've helped myself, not to mention an increase in relationship satisfaction if I succeed. I bought a John Gottman book at Half Price books that day as well. I also plan to finish a book recommended by our couples therapist as part of my research. Anyway, it's hard to exactly convey my change in state, but just know that it's far different from where it was, and in a good way. I'm up to the task of trying to invest time and effort into the practical applications of research on romantic relationships.
To testify to a bit of positive fruit that resulted from this change in mindset, I present you with Exhibit A, my Christmas present for my wife that I just gave her as a sign of my investment in our relationship:
We were on a budget this year, so this gift was one that had extremely high value, but not in the monetary sense, exactly. I was inspired to give my wife a bunch of things I probably should have been giving her all along. There were something like 40 coupons in total that she can use in 2012. They were things I knew she's really appreciate, but more importantly, I wanted to convey that I'd be around to redeem them. There was quite a bit of shakiness in our marriage recently; this was my way of trying to recommit and display my investment in making this relationship a success:
-- A fun night out x 6
-- A sweet back rub x 4
-- A rockin' foot rub x 4
-- Breakfast in bed x 4
-- Breakfast/coffee out with a friend x 6
-- A Saturday sleep in x 12
-- A weekend at the Santry Mansion or The Cottage (two local bed and breakfasts)
-- Beginner Lindy swing dancing lessons via Twin City Rebels Swing Dance Club
That's a lot of coupons :) I also tried to summarize my thought in a card. Here's an excerpt:
These gifts are my way of recommitting to you. You shouldn't need to be recommitted to; there shouldn't have been an "uncommitting" in the first place. Thus, I'm trying to do something I hope will help.
I had a change of mindset yesterday. While my study in one area has brought about significant issues, perhaps my gift for study could instead be advantageous. My disposition shifted yesterday on the way home from simply seeing a problem to seeing a problem to solve.
I plan to wrap up a couple of my current books and then turn my gaze toward relationships. I spent quite a bit of time hunting for scientific literature on relationships. I have 45 published articles on factors affecting relationships satisfaction. Perhaps if I knew the variables involved, I could improve myself and our relationship.
I think I panicked about us. Two years of on and off awareness of something no being right caught up to me. My instinct was to run -- perhaps "starting over" or just leaving the situation would help, I thought. But perhaps that's not necessary. I just don't want to hurt and to be happy. If that can come about by changing me and/or some variable in our lives, problem solved.
This gift is my way of showing you that I'm still here and still with you. I plan to work very hard on trying to understand my/our hurt and issues to try to make us work. I'm sorry that my issues hurt you so badly.
You shouldn't need coupons for most of this stuff -- a good husband would already having been giving them to you. Nevertheless, maybe I need a bit more push than the average good husband. this is my way of pushing myself for you. Here's to you -- my loving, tender, caring, fantastic wife.
Long journey ahead. Nevertheless, I thought I'd post again with these updates. This is hard stuff. I continue to share as I think more people might benefit from reading the raw data on how this can go, the ups along with the downs. There's a horrid amount of ugly stuff when googling for "unequally yoked marriage." Most of it is hopeless and depressing. I, too, as evidenced by the last post, have my depressed and doubtful moments. But there's also changes in heart that can come about. I'm off next week from work, so I hope to finish my couple of [a]theistic books and get cracking on relationship information.
At the end of the day, I just don't want to be miserable. I want to thrive and be happy. It's helpful to just keep those in mind without any qualifiers. The temptation is to look at my situation, realize that there's some potential sources of unhappiness in it, and just think, "causation." That's not necessarily the case. I don't know why, exactly, I'm unhappy... just that I'm unhappy. If the issues lie in myself, there's nothing to be fixed or upset about with respect to my circumstances! If there are some independent factors coming from the situation itself, I'll have to look at those down the road. To combat my inclination to just run, I need to keep hopeful and optimistic, hence my act of pre-committing myself with coupons. I also am going to apply my desire for knowledge and self-improvement to this, just like I have with god, power tool purchases, and multi-level marketing schemes. I'll stay in touch.