30 Days Back to Love
Week Two: Revisit historic sites
You've now shared a few deeply held feelings, perhaps gotten past some of those roadblocks. Suddenly, after years of simply being present in each other's lives, you're getting more intimate emotionally with the person you married — perhaps for the first time.
Step 3. Become each other's life-story coach
Ask your spouse to commit to spending 30 minutes a day (15 minutes for you and 15 minutes for your husband) — just for this week — reflecting on the roles you think the two of you have always played in the relationship and why. Have this conversation while the kids are watching television or asleep, while taking the dog for a walk, or over lunch together, if that's possible. Trust me: This step can connect you to each other more deeply than ever.
What in your husband's life story — going back to childhood — might be the source of the positive quality you identified? What is the source of the behavior or quality that has become a source of conflict?
Again, feel free to blame me for the archaeological dig: "The doctor in the article says that you get to a point in marriage where you start to feel distant from each other, because you haven't yet made the decision to really get close. To do that, he thinks, you have to understand more about the life story of the person you fell in love with."
The only rule: Both of you must agree to ask a minimum of three questions to uncover the truth.
For example, if the peeve you named is your husband's desire for control, ask him if it could have come from the chaos he experienced when his parents split, and have him describe the most disruptive events during the divorce and how they made him feel.
Take the chance to reveal yourself as completely as you can, too. If your husband asks why you were so much more demonstrative earlier in the relationship, try your hardest to answer honestly. It's key to stay with your own motivations. Was it in reaction to something he was doing, or because you needed feedback that he loved you? If it's the latter, try to pinpoint with him where the urge for that reassurance might have come from. Finally, design some experiments with each other that allow both of you to move beyond the limiting roles you have played in the marriage. If your husband has been a risk taker for 15 years while you've been a stabilizing force, identify a few risks you'd like to take, with his support.
If he has always been the family disciplinarian while you provide warmth and support, think together about why you gravitated toward those tasks. For the next few days, see how it feels to set limits, while your husband spends some time gently inviting your kids to open up to him about what's on their minds.