I felt disconnected from my wife and deeply consumed by work.
A two-minute conversation changed my understanding of her, myself, and relationships, prevented divorce and led to one of our most memorable vacations.
See, I’m the kind of guy who used to prioritize work over anything.
I’d wake up early in the morning, immediately open my phone and start replying to emails…
Shower and then straight to work..
Until I was too tired to keep working and then off to bed.
The occasional date just so she wouldn’t complain too much…
The truth is that I really didn’t want to spend too much time with my wife and I resented her for always wanting more time together.
And she resented me for working so much.
She wanted me to be more involved
She wanted to feel LOVED.
I wanted her to be less “needy”
less judgy and unhappy
I wanted to feel FREE.
The masculine partner aches for freedom while the feminine aches for love, that’s just how it goes.
One finds freedom through purpose while the other finds love through relating.
So, back to the story!
This one time we were just packing after the retreat we led in Colombia had come to a close when she asked me about my plans for December…
She had planned to go to Costa Rica and asked me if I’d join her.
I felt my heartbeat accelerate as I anticipated her frustration once she knew I had planned to fly back to Toronto, had an agenda full of clients and wanted to be on my own to finish writing “Grace” (my 1st book).
I’d seen this scenario so many times..
She wanted me to be more loving, to plan more dates, to bring more passion, to create more memories..
She wanted to feel adored.
Not just like a roommate, business partner or a glorified maid/mother.
She wanted to feel like a woman, worthy of desire, admiration, appreciation and connection.
And I wanted to be left alone.
Every time we had this conversation I’d tell her something along the lines of:
– Why don’t you get a hobby, hang out with your friends or focus on your own work?
– If you cannot be happy on your own maybe you should sit with that?
– If I don’t work we won’t be able to finance X or Y shared dream..
Why do you get upset? I’m doing my best.
– I’m just too busy right now for X (X= what she wanted/needed)
Best case scenario we’d negotiate some half-assed date night to try and make up for it all…
Her emotional world crushed me
My relationship with work crushed her.
She felt neglected.
I felt unsupported.
So back to the moment we were packing..
When she asked me about Costa Rica I said “I don’t have the time right now, there’s lots of work coming up and I may be away for 2 or 3 months at least”
I braced for impact.
We had just wrapped up a plant medicine retreat and our hearts were both in a tender and vulnerable state.
When she heard my response she put the clothes away and stood right in front of me.
Looked into my eyes, hugged me..
And teared up.
As she cried she looked at me with the purest love and said:
“I understand you have to go love. I know how important this is for you and I really appreciate all the sacrifices you do for me, others and our family..
..I just feel so sad. I miss you so much already and I love when we are together… but I understand. Please let me know how I can support you.”
My heart broke in that instant.
For the first time in years of relationship I felt that both of our worlds could co-exist without attacking/invalidating each other.
I felt seen, understood and not judged.
I felt truly supported.
Before, her pain had led her to anger, frustration, judgement and condemnation of my choices…
Which only pushed me away further.
She thought it was wrong I worked so much..
I thought it was wrong she felt so much..
We both got angry about each other’s experience before we were curious or compassionate enough to seek to understand it.
In this case, she went first.
She allowed herself to touch her emotions and share them as a gift (instead of a punishment)
She allowed herself to see the beauty in my choices.
To see a husband that works hard, is committed and responsible.
And she owned her pain without hiding it..
She acknowledged and accepted my answer even if it’s not the one she wanted.
So in that moment I saw the woman I love the most crying tears of deep grief and feeling very intense emotions without making me responsible or blaming me for them.
And something interesting happened!
Suddenly, out of my own desire, I started to think about how I could show up for her.
Thinking of ways I could be her hero.
Not because she demanded it or expected it..
Not because she complained or nagged me into it..
Not out of obligation..
Not because “Mommy is upset”
But because I loved her so much and it would please ME to bring her more joy and aliveness.
Her vulnerability during those 2 minutes was a gift:
I was given a clear opening where I could lead our relationship into glory!
I didn’t say a word and came back to Toronto to call a full calendar worth of clients to reschedule our appointments, booked myself a flight to Costa Rica and -for the first time in our relationship- traveled without my laptop.
No work whatsoever during those 10 days.
Just quality time with my wife..
It felt like a honey-moon!
We’d wake up in the mornings and look into each other’s eyes for extended periods of time as we made love and then cuddled..
Once thirsty we’d hop on the motorcycle we rented.
I loved feeling her arms wrapping around my chest as her head rested against my back.
Our first stop was a little boutique coffee shop where we’d grab Chai latte and almond croissants as we chatted about life and giggled..
We would then go surf or play with boogie boards, collect seashells and grab a “Pipa” (fresh coconut) and drink it as we walked along the most heart-melting sunsets we’ve seen.
Quite the difference from “wake up, read emails, work, sleep” routine..
Vastly different from our half-assed date nights.
So what did it for me?
I felt free.
And in that freedom, I chose to love her.
See, most women are so afraid that if they gave their man the choice, he wouldn’t choose them.
Their own anxiety, shame, lack of self-worth and insecurities make her feel that unless she forces him to do/be the man she needs, he won’t do anything at all.
“If my man was left to his own devices I would not be cared for.” is the sad reality most women in long term relationships live in.
So they settle for a half-assed, half-involved, half-present kind of man.
Because a FULL ON man must be free…
And freedom comes with vulnerability, because he could say no!
He could decide to play another game..
He could choose work instead..
But women try to stifle that choice away to not have to face their own emotions.
– Unhappiness over the relational dysfunctions..
– Annoyance over having to be the ones that bring them up..
– Frustration over their man not acknowledging them and understanding them.. (maybe even fixing or dismissing them)
– Anger about having to pick up his slack (on top of them having their own life, work and responsibilities to tend to).
They end up feeling that they have a child for a partner, or an emotionally unavailable and distant adult.
They end up feeling lonely, together.
And you know nothing sucks more than that!
Those 2 minutes with my wife were two minutes that TRULY surprised me…
Because I’m not the kind of guy to reschedule clients or to move around work for surfing.
I’m not the kind of guy to buy flights to Costa Rica on a whim..
Nor to stop working for 10 days and focus on connection, fun, games and tropical fine dining.
Heck! I’m not even an almond croissant, chai latte, shell-picking, boogey-boarding kind of guy…
Yet I found myself acting in ways my wife always dreamt I would..
Out of my own initiative..
and liking it!
I could not believe it…
So I’ve studied those 2 minutes over and over to understand what made the difference, trying to distill the core structure of it (so it could be repeated and taught.)
In all transparency I studied this because I wanted to feel seen ,understood and supported more consistently by my wife..
And for my wife to learn exactly what kind of communication and connection had to be in place if she wanted to get anything she wanted (and make me feel excited and like it was all my idea!)
The truth is that ever since, every time she communicates from this place, I cannot say no.
I melt and choose her!
I know the formula and how it works…
I taught it to her…
And I still cannot say no.
It’s about a certain way us males are wired.
Anyway, in recent conversations with friends who are engaged, married and in long term relationships I noticed the same ugly patterns..
Patterns that destroy love and alienate us every day a little further from each other.
Gridlocks that seem unresolvable…
Differences and worlds so different it seems impossible (or even threatening) to see how they could coexist harmoniously!
So I’ve been thinking to put together a webinar where we explore the most common mistakes a woman makes when communicating with her partner that have him not want to spend much time with her or put her needs and desires last in his list of priorities..
(As well as very simple, practical tips to fix them so that peace, presence and passion are reignited – all while he takes pride and smiles in excitement thinking it was all his idea! )
Would this be of interest to you?