Part 1 – Our First Truce
What are you to think when a marriage counsellor says: “Wow, you guys are a really hard couple.”?
Our marriage has been counselled by mentors on two different occasions, as well as by a few different marriage counsellors. Our last counsellor told us something that was not only hard to hear, but also a surprise. We were half way through our 2nd session when she said, “Wow, you guys are a really hard couple.” Of course, my prideful mind silently responded, “Finally, someone understands what I’m up against here!”
By the time we had accumulated 15+ years of marriage with ZERO confliction resolution skills, that’s all we had to show for it? That was our legacy? “Wow, you guys are a really hard couple.” It brought a sense of hopelessness, but as hard as it was to hear, it was also the beginning of a turning point. It was this feeling of not being able to find anyone to help us that forced the arrival of the Truce Box Talks.
We were in the middle of another cage fight. It doesn’t really matter what it was about. Whether it was 99% my fault and 1% his – or vice versa – it still takes two to tango.
Our dance was the same no matter what type of music was played. Always the same, always the same … A dance of dysfunctional communication. Over the course of the years, our dance had become much more aggressive towards each other as selfishness squeezed the love and life out of our marriage.
I remember getting more and more tired. Tired of being emotionally disconnected from Darrell, the man I married. I missed what we had in the beginning, and I hated what we had become. This particular ‘bender’ had been going on for a very long time and I was exhausted. I don’t know if it’s just my Sanguine personality or if all women are like this, but I find that it’s emotionally draining to cut yourself off from someone and hold them at arm’s length as an enemy.
When he came into a room, I would leave, and vice-versa. We weren’t eating our meals together. I went to bed early just to be away from him. And whenever he was home he was in the garage just to be away from me. We had relegated each other to even less than roommate status. There were no hellos, goodbyes or any acknowledgement of the other’s existence whatsoever.
After so many years of constant fighting with very few of our conflicts actually being resolved, the emotional turmoil each argument brought just compounded on top of the last unresolved one. I had no fight left in me. Nothing. I felt ‘far away’ from him. Disconnected. Together but alone is a tough place to live. It’s very painful, completely confusing – and perhaps the loneliest of all.
I remember the day as if it was yesterday. I didn’t really even think about it and I don’t know why I did it. I was just feeling so utterly alone and empty, and had no one else to call at that time. I picked up the phone and called Darrell at work. When he came on the line, words just blurted out of my mouth without me really knowing what I was saying.
- I’m bottoming-out here. I don’t really know what direction to go. The only direction I can see that will make it stop hurting between us, is for me or you to go away. Is that really where we’ve arrived at?
- Is that what you want? I’m not sure if it’s what I want, maybe. It feels like our marriage is teetering on a tightrope.
- We’ve gone around this mountain so many times in our marriage. I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how we can fix this. We are both convinced we are right and I don’t know if it will ever get better or be resolved, but I can’t do this anymore.
- I’m not blaming you or blaming me … I just need it to stop. The emotional hate that’s between us, just for a little while. Some sane time – a break.
- Can we agree to disagree – just for now? And … pretend? Can we pretend that we still love each other – the way we used to? Can we pretend that we are a normal mature couple that doesn’t fight like this all the time?
What I had been delineating was a truce … I just didn’t recognize it as such; not at first.
Dictionary.com defines truce as:
- a suspension of hostilities for a specified period of time by mutual agreement of the warring parties; cease-fire; armistice
- an agreement or treaty establishing this
- a temporary respite, as from trouble or pain
It’s important to understand that we had been withdrawing from each other because of these issues for most of our married life. In the beginning, we had a pretty OK marriage, but if you can’t talk to each other without conflict erupting – well, nothing ever gets resolved and things go downhill rapidly. We were nearing the bottom of that hill in our marriage.
It was that afternoon that we held our first truce and by evening the idea of Truce Box Talks were born.
In Part 2 – Emotions, The Truce Box holds your emotions for you until you are ready to accept them as your own.
In Part 3 – The Truce Box Talk, Freedom, strength and acceptance are found in the truce.