Column: Giving your marriage a gut check
Over the past three years, I have enjoyed the opportunity to introduce you to resources that can help strengthen your marriage. Many, if not most, of these resources you have likely never heard of. I'm confident in saying that as I have not previously heard of many of them and I work in this field on a regular basis. I very recently was introduced to today's guest columnist, Nick Pavlidis.
Nick describes himself as being a family-focused business coach who helps high achievers grow their businesses while maintaining strong boundaries around family and personal priorities. His first book, "Confessions of a Terrible Husband: Lessons Learned from a Lumpy Couch," details how he went from an overworked lawyer who had a family to a husband and father who is also a successful lawyer and businessman. You can connect with Nick at www.ATerribleHusband.com.
Please note, I have never been, nor do I intend to become, a man-basher, or woman-basher for that matter. I do not believe marital strife and discord are the fault of just one spouse. I do appreciate Nick's candor, however, as he draws attention to an all too common shortfall of the male of our species. I'll be back at the end to tell you how you can learn more about this topic.
Does your marriage need a gut check?
Two years ago I hit bottom. I had spent years clawing my way up the corporate ladder in an effort to provide food and shelter to my young family. A noble purpose, for sure. But in my case, the focus was almost singular: building wealth and success in the corporate world.
How peaceful would home be if we didn't have to worry about putting food on the table or keeping the lights on, I thought. So I worked hard to make sure that would never happen. Yet no matter how many rungs I cleared on that corporate ladder, that peace never came.
Forty- to 60-hour weeks turned into 50- to 80-hour weeks, sometimes more.
Over and over again, my wife would try and plan a short trip away or a night out with friends. And over and over again, I'd refuse to commit, at most tentatively agreeing, but cautioning that I couldn't say for sure because I didn't know what work would look like that day. She'd be frustrated. And I'd be frustrated that she didn't agree that I was doing that for the good of the family and didn't want to commit to something I might have to cancel because of a work emergency.
It turns out she was right. I couldn't believe that I hadn't seen it all those years. I had been harming my family relationships in the present in the name of working around the clock to "put food on the table and keep the lights on." Surely you can feed a family and keep the lights on working less than 50 to 80 hours per week and planning dinners and short trips away. So I committed to finding out how I let myself get to that point and, more importantly, how I could dig myself out.
What I discovered about myself scared me. As I share in my new book, "Confessions of a Terrible Husband: Lessons Learned from a Lumpy Couch," I had let my good intentions almost destroy my marriage in no less than seven ways, which I call my "confessions," all of the little things I did or didn't do that caused conflict in my marriage and told my wife she was not as important as she should have been. There was a clear disconnect between my actions and my intentions. So I spent the next two years examining exactly how I had been spending my time and adjusting my actions to align with my new vision.
That simple process was gut-wrenching. I discovered that I had been putting my marriage, and my wife in particular, fifth in line on my list of priorities.
First was money. Money, as you know by now, was my key to providing for my family. Second was my job. That provided more than 90 percent of the money. Naturally, it was next on the list. Then came me, however not in a healthy self-actualization way, but rather in a "defining and pursuing my personal vision of family and business success" way. I hadn't taken the time to create a shared vision for our family with my wife. I decided what a successful home would look like and chased it without considering my wife might have had a different vision. After "me," came the kids. They were dependent and vulnerable. They relied on my wife and me for everything. And then came my wife. It wasn't intentional. But my actions didn't lie.
It took me more than five years of conflict and a hard look at how I actually spent my days to realize that I hadn't been connecting with, loving or honoring my wife well enough.
My process to correct that was to keep it simple and just do the next right thing. It hasn't been perfect. But taking that gut check and making that commitment reaped much greater benefits for my family than I could have imagined.
Marital stress reduced. My relationships with my kids improved. My success in business did not suffer one bit, and I now have a mutually-supportive relationship with my wife.
I thought I needed my wife to understand me better. But what I really needed was that gut check and commitment to look at how I actually spent my time and efforts. It was exactly what my marriage needed.
It was painful at times. But it worked well. And in helping others improve their relationships along with me as I have improved mine, I have seen it improve other marriages as well.
Sometimes all our marriages need is a little gut check.
Hear from Nick
I want to restate this column is in no way intended to suggest that husbands are always the cause of a troubled marriage. It is true, however, that many men fail to give their roles of husband and father sufficient time, energy and effort for them to succeed. I'm so pleased that Nick Pavlidis will be my guest on "TWOgether as ONE" on Monday. The program airs at 6 p.m. on KLJH 107.1FM. It can also be heard online at www.KPCL.org and clicking on Superstation 107.1. I mention this in case you have friends or family out of the area who might want to tune in.
People out of the area can read this column every Sunday by logging on to www.daily-times.com and clicking on the Lifestyle section. They can also find it at the website for the Four Corners Coalition for Marriage & Family at www.fccmf.org. Thanks in advance for passing on that information to any you know who might want to be aware.
Ron Price is the co-founder and executive director of the Four Corners Coalition for Marriage & Family, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to strengthening and equipping marriages and families in the Four Corners area. He can be reached at 505-327-7870.