Dana and Tony had been married for seventeen years when they came in for a marriage intensive. Dana had asked him to move out and he did not know what else to do when he called.
Dana complained that Tony was an embarrassment to her. Any time she invited him to a couples gathering with her friends or to her company events, she felt like he purposefully caused a scene. He would put her down as a wife or make fun of her in some way.
Tony felt alone in the marriage. She refused to ever go on a bike ride with him, join him on a golf outing, or go to the gym with him. Occasionally when he was out with a couple of his friends, she would show up unannounced and unplanned and then be upset with him if he did not leave his friends to be with her for the rest of the night.
Missing Needs And Merging Poorly
Tony and Dana were like many couples we have worked with through marriage intensives over the years. Each spouse has needs that the other is not in tune with. And when they join each other in their activity, they don’t do it well.
One analogy to describe this problem is the challenge with merging into traffic. Merging into other’s traffic takes attention to details and intention in driving. If a driver is distracted, focused on anything else, they can do it in a way that causes wrecks.
Similarly, merging into your spouse’s activities can create a wreck for your marriage. It takes your full attention to know where and when to merge. Being intentional about it can create beautiful relationship moments, while leaving it to chance frequently leads to relationship wrecks.
Problems Merging In Marriage
- Refusing To Merge – When one spouse refuses the invitations to join their spouse in activities important to them, it feels like rejection and can lead to loneliness. Frequently the activity is not something the refusing spouse enjoys. However, enthusiastically participating for the relationship building opportunities can lead to positive relationship memories.
- Stopping Or Slowing In The Merge – When someone invites their spouse to join them, frequently the other spouse may decide yes then change their mind in the initiation process of the activity. Other times they may get “cold feet” about the activity that they have little or no experience doing and slow the entire process down so that it is not enjoyable for either party.
- Merging Abruptly – Sometimes a person will decide to surprise their spouse with no warning that they are joining the activity. Joining an activity in progress without planning usually ruins their spouse’s activity.
Merging Well In Your Marriage
Whether you are considering merging into your spouse’s recreational, religious, career, or other activities, merging well gives you two the best chance for developing connection and closeness.
- Signal To Merge – Good communication is essential in marriage. When attempting to merge into your spouse’s activities, use good communication to let them know what you are hoping for in joining them.
- Accelerate To Match – When you decided to join your spouse’s activity, do your best to help them experience it at least as good as they would have without you. Try to catch up with them about their expectations. Ask curious questions in order to prepare yourself to help them have a great experience with you there. Enthusiastically participate!
- Find Space To Join – Ask your spouse how you can best support them in having a great activity. Negotiate with your spouse about when and where you can join them in the things they love to do. Dress and interact in a way that fits the space that is open for you to participate.
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This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at www.LifeTogetherForever.com © Roy and Devra Wooten 2017. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at Secret@LifeTogetherForever.com.