“If your marriage is in trouble, can you weather the storm?” Grey’s Anatomy
When we’re in pain and we feel stuck or trapped in that pain, we can get a little rebellious. When we’re frustrated because our marriage is in trouble, we can start doing things we don’t normally do. And it’s a cry for help, in its own way.
Juli had been feeling disconnected from her husband for a long time. He didn’t know what was wrong. He just knew she had been going out with her friends more often and drinking more wine than usual. He didn’t realize that she was numbing and distracting herself in order to avoid feeling the loneliness in their relationship.
Juli started to resent that her husband wasn’t noticing the disconnect, wasn’t acknowledging her pain, and didn’t seem to mind when she spent time with friends rather than him. She wanted him to notice. She wanted him to make it better. She wanted to feel desired and adored by him again.
And that resentment only made things worse.
Going out with girlfriends turned into a girls’ trip to Vegas for the weekend.
The girls’ trip to Vegas led to kissing someone she didn’t even know and never saw again.
That indiscretion led to sending a Facebook message to an old boyfriend to see if the flame between them had fizzled. It hadn’t.
That led to her heart longing for someone else… and more bricks were added to the wall she had built around her heart about her husband and her marriage.
Now her marriage is in trouble.
I’ve seen versions of Juli’s story over and over, so I know it occurs far more often than we speak about openly. And I can relate to it because I had my own version of Juli’s story in my first marriage. All along the way, at every step, our resentment and acting out was a cry for help, but we felt those feelings and took those actions without ever really expressing what we needed.
Acting Out and Self-Sabotage Come in Many Forms
Diane had a supportive and loyal husband, but he didn’t want to sit down and connect with her. If she wanted his attention, she would go out and buy something that was big enough that he would question it; it would at least get him talking, even if it was yelling. She didn’t care about the $5,000 handbag she’d bought. She was crying out for her husband’s attention.
Bethany’s marriage was too much to face most nights, so she chose to stay at work until late so she wouldn’t have to face her husband’s sad, longing eyes or have yet another discussion about what wasn’t not working for her in the relationship.
Acting out in our marriage can take many forms: cheating, eating too much, or bullying and judging other people. It can take the form of spending our way through the pain or working long, long hours to avoid the truth of what waits at home. It can look like reaching out to ex-lovers through Facebook or seemingly harmless flirting.
It’s all valid. It’s all real. It’s all different versions of a cry for help.
If some of this sounds familiar to you, understand that all of your actions are a cry for help in some way. Rather than self-imploding or heading down a path where there’s no return, it might be easier to just actually cry out for help. Wave the white flag, sound an alarm, do whatever you have to do to express what you need in your marriage and what’s hurting your heart.
And if it falls on deaf ears, then it is your responsibility to save yourself.