We all have crazy moments in our marriages. Some of us may have more extreme moments than others, but we all have them. If you say you don’t, then you are lying. These crazy moments can show up like little streaks that we hope no one saw or they can be a tidal wave of crazy that took down the whole house. Either way, we all have our own brand of crazy.
You will hear me credit Sue Johnson’s Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) over and over. Sure, there is the fact that her therapy has been proven to have an unprecedented success rate in improving relationships, but moreover, learning the philosophy of her model was the first time in my therapy career that I realized how much people’s crazy made sense.
Of course you lost your mind and started stalking your partner’s Facebook page for every friend request since 2005. Of course you turned into an unrecognizable version of yourself when your spouse forgot your birthday. Of course you begged and pleaded like a crazy person and blocked the door and the driveway for your spouse to stay and not go. Of course you locked yourself in the bedroom for 3 days after your spouse made an insulting comment.
You did these things, because on some level, you feared that the security of your relationship, the closeness of the connection with your partner, the person you care about most in the world, was threatened. You feared that something was more important to your partner than you, be it work, golf, drinking, kids, the gym, a family member, a friend, an ex. You feared that your partner thought of you in a negative way, you felt that you let your partner down, you feared that your partner lost their love for you. You feared that you couldn’t rely on your partner, couldn’t trust them, depend on them. You feared they didn’t think about you, didn’t care about you, even if just for a few moments.
Any inkling of one of these things can take the most sane person in the world and turn them into so many versions of crazy.
I’ve had to learn my “crazy.” I get critical, demanding and rigid with my husband. I go from a laid-back, go-with-the-flow, things-will-work-out attitude, to a busy-body tornado that shouts out demands and orders to my husband with every breath I take. When I get this way, it is my signal, my sign that I’m in need of some time to reconnect with my husband. I know that besides a good night’s sleep (which doesn’t exist in my house) and a ten day vacation without kids (never going to happen), that I need some uninterrupted, relaxed time with my husband to chat, laugh, dream or play. I know I need something beyond just vegging out on the couch and watching Netflix until one or both of us falls asleep. I know I need to schedule a babysitter and spend some adult time together, despite how tired I am from dealing with my 5 year old daughter’s nightmares from the night before.
What to do:
First things first. Identify your “crazy.” Sometimes it’s subtle—irritability, impatience, frustration, sensitivity, numbing out with TV, food, alcohol, sleep. Sometimes it’s super obvious—angry outburst, accusations, demands, shut-down and withdrawal. Figure out the answer to the question: “What are you most likely to do when you feel distress in your relationship?”
Second: This action is now your red flag, your smoke signal that something is awry. Hint: It’s not necessarily that your spouse did something wrong per se, but your distress is just a signal that you need your spouse. In other words, focus less on what your spouse is doing “wrong” and more on what you need.
Third: Think about what might help you feel a little closer to your spouse. Do you need time together? Do you need reassurance, a listening ear, a hug? Do you need to get out of the seriousness of life and just have some fun together? Do you need to laugh? Think about what might help and ask for it.
We will talk in later posts about the proven value of connection with a loved one, how it literally calms our nervous system and has both physiological and psychological effects. For now, just trust us….connection works wonders.
- We all have our “crazy” tendencies that show up when we feel overwhelmed, stressed or disconnected from our spouses.
- These tendencies make complete sense and are even expected when we feel at odds with a loved one.
- Learn the answer to the question: “What are you most likely to do when you feel distress in your relationship?”
- Learn how to lean on your spouse for closeness and comfort….note what happens to your distress.
- Connection works wonders.