Want Your Relationship to Work? Check Your Connection

Towards the end of my marriage, I was having a problem with the printer. For some reason, it wasn’t printing. I was sending documents, but I kept getting error messages. I’m not a techie person, so I asked my former husband to help. But he didn’t seem to understand how much this mattered to me, so it wasn’t high on his list of things to do. In fact, it wasn’t on his radar screen at all.

So the printer sat in its error state.

Weeks later, I asked for help again. He finally sat down and tried a few things, but nothing worked. I asked if we could call the Geek Squad to look at it, but he didn’t like the idea of someone monkeying around with our computer.

So again, the printer sat in its error state.

This went on for months–with me needing a printer that worked, asking for help and him not truly understanding how much this meant to me.

Finally, I decided to phone a friend who had told me to call anytime I had a computer issue. I explained over the phone what was going on. He asked a few questions and determined that when we set up our new router, we had connected it incorrectly. I switched two cables around and voila! The printer started printing all the items that had been sitting in the queue.

So the problem wasn’t with the printer. The problem was with the connection.

Not long after this, I came to the difficult decision to leave my marriage. And although my leaving was certainly not about the printer, it did happen to be a really good metaphor for a large part of what was wrong in our marriage.

We had a connection problem.

As with the printer, I’d been sending requests to him and kept getting error messages. But unlike the printer, our issue wasn’t going to be easily solved by switching a few cables. Our marriage had been sitting in a state of error for far too long; so long in fact that we’d hard wired it into a condition of permanent disconnection.

Soon after I left, I heard a story about a couple who schedule a coffee date every month to sit together and talk about their relationship. They talk about the things that are working and the things that aren’t. They talk about what matters to them.

They talk and they listen.

Every month.

Through these scheduled dates, they are making their relationship and their connection to one another their top priority. They are taking the time to not only listen but hear what matters to each other. They address and fix issues before they become too big to overcome. In this way, they are hard wiring themselves together in a healthy way to keep their connection to one another strong. 

They are a great example to follow.

Because whether you want your printer or relationship to work, it’s all about connection.

Three Relationship Questions to Ask

“Are you in a relationship with him?”

This question always baffles me. When I’m asked this, my reply is “Of course I’m in a relationship with him–we are relating to each other.” In my opinion, aren’t we in some type of relationship with everyone in our lives? Aren’t we in a relationship with the people in our family? With our friends? Our co-workers? Our neighbors? With ourselves?

So the question, “Are you in a relationship with him?” isn’t enough for me. There are other more meaningful questions to ask–questions that get to the heart of the things. 

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A World Wide Timeout: Five Lessons the Coronavirus is Teaching Me

“Shelter-in-place” feels like a virus imposed timeout. The whole world is essentially being told “go to your room”. Although it has been implemented to help curb the spread of the virus, a timeout can be good for reflection. It gives us a moment to evaluate and take stock of the situation. It helps us slow down. It provides an opportunity for us to think about our behavior and maybe make some changes.

Since I am a curious person, I’ve decided to use this timeout to think about what the virus is teaching me. Here’s a few things I have learned:

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It’s the Marriage That’s Broken, Not the Home

When most people ask why my marriage ended, I usually reply that we were never doing the same dance. It was much more complicated than that, of course, but this is the most simple way to explain it. I was trying to tango with someone doing a line dance. It just didn’t work.

I stayed a lot longer than I should have for a variety of reasons, one of which was that I did not want to be divorced. I did not want my kids to be from a “broken home”. 

But since we weren’t doing the same dance, there was no love connection. Even though we were living under the same roof, in a sense we were already separated and broken.

In Grounded Spirituality, Jeff Brown writes:

..many seemingly intact families are deeply broken…a home is not broken when parents are separated or divorced. A home is broken when there is an absence of love.”

Continue reading “It’s the Marriage That’s Broken, Not the Home”