Steps 2 and 3: Have a Big Fight and Use that Fight for Change

Breakthrough, people, breakthrough.  That’s what I should have said instead of saying we’d finally rebooted our marriage.  Because, as we all know, marriage is a living, breathing, changing thing.  Which means there’s always the opportunity for another fight around the corner. Yee-ha!

But the good news is that once you’ve had a major breakthrough, the fights aren’t nearly as bad.  Probably because you’ve been to hell and back and now you know that you and your spouse are really, finally gonna make it.

And that is some damn good news.

To get there, you’ve got to be willing to risk your ass.  You’ve got to go out on a limb and be willing to open up that gigantic can of spousal worms so that you can Create Lasting Change.  This means getting out of zombie mode and addressing all that yucky stuff that’s been simmering beneath the surface for months, if not years.

And your spouse has to be willing to do the same.

Now, this part might actually require some planetary alignment or outright voodoo to get things working in your favor.  Because if your spouse isn’t willing to play, it’s back to square one.  Otherwise known as Game Over.

I don’t know about you, but there’s something about mixing Small Children with Sleep Deprivation and No Time to See Your Friends, Much Less Do Anything Fun that can turn even the most wonderful spouse into a horrible, terrible frenemy.

And it’s not always the easiest thing in the world to open up to a frenemy.  So reach back into the depths and try and remember what drew you to this person in the first place.  Then, maybe then, you’ll be willing to risk the evils of A Big Fight in order to get to The Other Side.

This is going to require some Super Powers, for sure.  One of the most important Super Powers to have in marriage, I’m pretty sure, is Trust.  Another is Willingness to Risk.  Here’s what Rosemary Mahoney writes about taking that risk in love:

Little by little, he has shown me that by allowing him into my life I’m not losing my freedom and independence but having another sort of adventure, that by trusting him and allowing him to help me I’m not losing strength but gaining it.  Trusting has made me a more open, more generous person, which is undeniably a strength.   I know that if I want this love that has made my life better than I could ever make it by myself, I have to stick my neck out farther than ever before. (“Courting Danger,” 134, More, Oct. 2011)

I like how she sees her relationship as an adventure, especially since Marriage With Small Kids is a completely different kind of adventure.  And if we’re going to make it through this one, we have to realize that the old game is over, and we’ve got to start playing by a completely new set of rules.

So rock that boat, already!  Have it out!  Take your spouse to an astrologer, therapist or back-alley thug (kidding!) who’s going to knock enough sense into them to level out the playing field.  You can’t save a sinking boat by yourself, you know.

Then, skip back to the wonderful little book (Hold Me Tight) that saved our collective married ass a few weeks ago.  I don’t mean to keep harping on how wonderful this damn book is, but you know what? It really is pretty goddamn good.  So, whenever you need to, click here to read that post again.

Once you’ve finally worked your way through all that sucky wonderful awful craziness, take a break.  You’re going to be exhausted and you’re going to need it.  But you’re also going to be strangely exhilarated.  So go out and do something fun with your spouse–you deserve it!  Which leads me to….

Coming up next:

  • Step 4: Take a Night Away
  • Step 5: Put On Your Wedding Duds and Try Again

Have one of these bad boys living under your bed like I did? Frightening, to say the least. Happy Halloween!

(Check out this picture for a hint.)

In the meantime, I’m pulling for you.  Hang in there–it really does get better!


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