When healing from an infidelity, affair or even in a healthy relationship there are always natural changes that occur.
As we are all Human Beings and not Human ‘Stagnants’, we are in a constant state of change and development. So, it may become necessary at some point to realize there have been modifications in the business of your marriage and a sort of recalibration of the ‘New Normal’ has to occur.
Monica realized she wanted a change, when she woke up one morning angry with her husband. David didn’t actually do anything, but that was her issue. Sex, always initiated by Monica since David’s infidelity, was literally in her control for the past 23 months. It was a boundary the couple had agreed upon in therapy, while they were a couple in healing.
Now that it was nearing the 2-year mark since David’s infidelity, Monica called me to express her frustration in always having to initiate in the bedroom. I encouraged her to try the Fine Tune Meeting. “The what?” she asked. I explained that when my husband and I find changes in our relationship occurring it’s time to sit down and renegotiate the terms. She asked a great question – How do you recognize the change is even happening?
For some people, it may be as simple as waking up and feeling different about something, the literal changing of your mind. For others, it can be a new issue showing up in a recurring argument that never gets resolved. Communication isn’t working like it has been and things need to be examined. Many times this can be done with just the two of you, other times is may take a trip to your therapist just for a tune up. Just like a car can’t run forever without maintenance, your marriage needs check-ups too…
The Fine Tune Meeting
David and Monica sat down over lattes on neutral ground, to begin their Fine Tune Meeting. Monica shared her feelings. David was utterly confused! He thought that not initiating sex was what Monica wanted. He was just complying with her request because he loved and respected Monica enough to earn back her trust. Monica explained that she needed this control in the beginning of their healing. It was her way of letting David know when she was ready emotionally to be intimate as the anger and hurt subsided. But, now that time had passed and healing had come into full swing, Monica was ready for a change. She wanted to feel wanted again by her husband.
Laying their new thoughts on the table, Monica was able to explain to David in a loving way that because the trust was coming back she was more comfortable trying to incorporate David’s feelings and sexuality in a more safe environment. David was so happy to feel that the wall of distrust was beginning to crumble and the conversation spiraled from there. New boundaries were established and both left their meeting feeling closer and heard.
When Problems Arise
Not every Fine Tune Meeting ends in happy hugs, unfortunately. Some people are more averse to change and renegotiation. Especially after the trust has been broken in a relationship, routine and predictability become part and parcel of rebuilding that safe trust. However, even when we don’t want it or expect it – we evolve. It becomes necessary to accept this and talk about our feelings with our spouse.
Recently, Shira and Allen had a meeting that ended up needing some intervention. Communication wasn’t always great between these two high school sweethearts and that’s when Shira emotionally connected to her best guy friend. Although they never had a sexual affair, Shira’s emotional affair lasted two months before Allen saw the texts and emails.
Working with a therapist for over a year to get things on the right track, communication and intimacy were better than ever. However, Shira’s lack of effort to find a job now that the kid’s were all in school seemed to really bother Allen. He had always wanted Shira to stay home with the kids. But, since none of them were home until 3 pm it seemed silly to him that Shira ‘just do laundry’ all day. Shira was confused recently because Allen was being short with her and rude. She approached first. Instead of a calm, healing conversation this Fine Tune Meeting turned into an angry, resentment- filled argument. After days of no resolution, both decided this was not a Fine Tune they could handle themselves.
Shira mentioned to me that at first, she felt going back to therapy was a failure. She said walking back through those doors didn’t feel like progress. The therapist did reassure her that all the couple needed was two or three sessions of a tune up. The failure Shira felt initially ended up feeling like a huge success for them as they both realized that they needed help communicating before things got out of hand. The dynamics of the relationship were changing and they were all for the better.
Sometimes when you’re at an impasse and no one will budge, that’s when a therapist can offer you both a road map to togetherness again. It’s never a failure to put your relationship first, realizing that we can’t always do maintenance ourselves.
One of my favorite marriage therapists, Victoria Baum, talks about the need to have a “Positive Adaptation” to your marriage. Change is good and can bring about new ideas, hope and rekindle lost intimacy. If you take the time to both renegotiate the boundaries and reaffirm the goals of your relationship you will absolutely reap the benefits of a lasting and loving marriage.
How have you become your own agent of change for your relationship?
How do you and your spouse approach evolution in your marriage?
Please leave any responses in the comment section below.