How to avoid complacency in a relationship that can lead to disaster — sensible advice from marriage coach Marie McKinney-Oates
One of the first couples I saw when I started Nashville Marriage Studio had just been rocked by some crazy news: she had started an emotional affair with one of his close friends. It hadn’t become physical, and she wanted to work their marriage because something was clearly off if she was falling for someone new.
Everyone was hurt for obvious reasons. He was hurt that he had been betrayed by people he cared deeply about. She was hurt that she had been so lonely in their marriage that it was almost destroyed her entire family.
An atomic bomb went off in their marriage, and it got everyone’s attention. He realised that just because she isn’t saying anything is wrong doesn’t mean that nothing is wrong. And she realised that suffering in silence won’t win you any martyr points.
Thankfully for them, the atomic bomb was just the right level of destruction. It showed them where their structure was weak, and left just enough of the foundation so that they could rebuild something truly beautiful.
Some of us are so thankful, arrogant even, because we’ve never experienced an atomic bomb. We think that because we’ve never heard the words “I’ve been lying to you” or “I’m leaving” that we’re healthy enough. We get conned into believing that we’re somehow immune to having our world torn to shreds because “we would never do that to each other.”
And sometimes that arrogance wields much more power than an atomic bomb ever could.
I don’t want the devastation that comes with news like an affair, but I don’t want to to be numb to my marriage problems. I don’t want to look at each other as nothing more than roommates and be okay with that. I don’t want to drift apart in the Sea of Good Enough. I don’t want to ever think we’re invincible simply because the atomic bomb hasn’t dropped on us, yet.
Because the truth is that many times the ingredients in the atomic bomb I’m terrified of are complacence and arrogance. Once I believe that we can go on “cruise control” I have opened the door to the potential of disaster.
In the same way that my health nut friends aren’t waiting to hear “You have cancer” before they get rid of McDonald’s from their diet, don’t wait until you’ve googled “divorce lawyers” to become proactive about your marriage.
Never be afraid to say that something doesn’t feel right between the two of you. Never be afraid to say that you want more. Never be afraid to ask for help. Never think that atomic bombs can’t happen to you.
For more words of wisdom from MArine McKinney-Oates click here.