Linda: There are times when one person is so preoccupied with themselves or some personal life challenge, that they do not have the energy to devote to caring for their relationship. It lessens the integrity, strength, and vitality of the partnership when only one of the pair is nourishing it. One person’s committed attention can only keep the relationship healthy for a limited period. Holding the commitment for two is exhausting.
In the case of Gabe and Sasha, it was Sasha who carried the commitment for them both. She handled most of the housework, childcare, and also worked outside the home. She was the one who brought up the issues that needed to be addressed. She was the one to forgive when Gabe spent a lot of time with his single guy friends, forgetting agreements he made and was only minimally involved with their child, leaving the lion’s share of the baby’s care to Sasha.
During these times of disappointment and frustration, Sasha sensed that she had to offer the repair tactics to get them through the low points. She knew that without her clear intention, they would not come through those periods with their marriage intact. But everyone has their limits, and Sasha found that she was meeting hers.
After carrying the commitment almost virtually alone for several months, Sasha’s patience was wearing thin. When Gabe had a brief affair with his secretary, that was the last straw. She told Gabe that she could no longer live with him and that it was time for him to move out. Gabe was shocked that his devoted wife was speaking to him this way. He had never seen her be so clear in drawing such a firm boundary. Fortunately, when Sasha came to the point of exhaustion, and could no longer carry the commitment for the two of them, Gabe picked it up.
Sasha: “There is only so much strength that any one individual has to be able to carry commitment alone, and I had reached my limit. I just didn’t have anything left to give. It became clear that I could not go on without substantive assistance from Gabe. He found the marriage counselor and made the appointments for us to go. Even then, for months I was suspicious, plagued with doubt whether we could recover.”
Gabe: “With the help of the marriage counselor, I began to think of things that would be healing. In addition to my sincere apologies, I got more involved with our baby daughter and found that I enjoyed it. I volunteered to take care of her so that Sasha could have some time to herself. And I recognized that we needed time alone without work or the baby to enjoy each other. I got a lot of points from Sasha when I called the babysitters to arrange for us to have some romantic time.”
Sasha: “Instead of me being the one who carried the vision of our recovery and having a healthy, loving relationship once again, Gabe began to carry that vision. It was such a relief to turn over the commitment for the well-being of our relationship after having carried that burden alone for such an extended time.”
Gabe: “At first, I was afraid that I had pushed it too far, and that Sasha would give up on me. I felt like such a dope and was fearful that I had blown it for good. But she was willing to give me a second chance. During those times when we connected with affection, respect, and tenderness it truly seemed possible that our relationship could heal. As the frequency of our emotional and sexual intimate connections increased, the experience of love flowing freely once again reassured us both that we could make it.”
Sasha: “During the weeks of the hardest heartache, I made a conscious decision to try my best to put the resentment, fear, and doubt aside temporarily to go straight for the love. In those moments when I felt my affection for Gabe, I attempted to be honest with myself that it was there and to tell him the truth. It was a close call, but we made it.”
These two discovered that they could not be dealing with the issues constantly. They saw that they could set them aside periodically, to rest on tiny islands of sanity when they were being rocked in the dark night sea storm. When they were in each other’s arms, they paused from the exhausting feelings and thoughts that had made their life chaotic and unpredictable. That’s when significant healing began.
Slowly and surely, the trust that had been missing began to return. With apologies, forgiveness, and substantive changes; a more solid trust began to take hold. Gabe rose up to a higher level of maturity and joined her in holding himself equally responsible for the commitment to the well-being of their partnership.
Over time, their relationship made a full recovery from their breakdown in trust. They went on to enjoy a relationship that was stronger than before the breach. It was the pain of almost losing their relationship that was a big wake up call to bring them to a higher level of fulfillment.