Breaking the cycle. Finally.

We’ve had arguments before.

Our marriage counselor insists that we will always have arguments.  Having arguments is no reason to continue going to counseling, she assures us.

“Not that I’m kicking you out the door, it’s just – “

“Good to hear!” I cut her off before she can bring up the exit strategy discussion.  Again.

Married people have arguments.  Disagreements.  Neither marriage counseling nor commitment nor love is enough to turn either of us into flawless people.  It’s less, she tells us, about the arguments than it is about how we work through them.  Do we continue to communicate?  Do we stay connected and make progress?  Are we resolving our arguments in a way that actually brings us closer together, rather than simply agreeing “not to fight” anymore?

We do.    We are.  We have.

But this was not just another argument.

This was The Argument.  The Argument we’ve had hundreds of times in the last ten years.  The Argument that grew roots and limbs and whole forests of resentment between us in the past.  This was The Argument that turned into doubt and fear and hopelessness and disconnection and mistrust and  – this was the seed we’d believed we’d cast out months ago.

“We’re right back to square one,” I heard myself say.

All these months of hard work were just a phase, I thought.

“You’re not talking like someone who’s been in marriage counseling!” he shouted.

“You’re not acting like someone who’s been in marriage counseling!” I screamed back.

Voices raised.  Doors slammed.  The phone shook in my hand as I contemplated who I could call to justify myself to.

This is why we’re not ready to leave marriage counseling yet, I reminded myself.

I put down the phone.  I’d stopped making that call months ago, and it didn’t feel right to start making it again now.

“It feels like you don’t care,” I heard myself saying to him – to the only person in the world who needed to hear me say it.  “It feels like I have no control over my life when you do that.  More than that, it feels like…” I went on.  Slowly.  Calmly.  Clearly, using my words instead of my fears and anger to communicate with him.

“What I hear you saying is….”

Less than an hour later I was back on the phone with him again.  “I think we need to set aside some time to make sure we have the same expectations.  Maybe that will prevent this from happening again – from going back to that place.”

“That sounds like a good idea,” he agreed.

“You know… this is… this is the thing – “

“I know.  I know,” he agreed.  “I don’t want to go back either.”

“Thank you for talking to me.”

“Thank you for calling.”

“I love you,” I reminded him.

“I love you, too.”

And I knew that he meant it as much as I did.  More than that, I knew this time was different.  That while this was The Argument, these were not the same two people from a year ago having it.  We were not simply agreeing to “not fight” or white knuckling our way to another truce.  We weren’t leaning on the fact that we loved each other and desperately hoping that would be enough.

We’ve had arguments before.  But this was not just another argument.  This was The Argument – and even in the face of that, the tools we’d been given were working.

I heard our counselor’s voice in my head, repeating the words she’d tried to make me hear for the last month or more.  “You’re doing it,” she said.  “Even when I’m not around, you’re doing it.

I realized she was right.  We were doing it.  We are doing it.  All on our own, even when our deepest insecurities are triggered, we’re doing it.

And I’ll happily tell her all about it at tomorrow’s appointment.

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  1. Grumble Girl says:

    Good for you, girl. You can do it. Yes, you can.

  2. Maria says:


    I love you guys.

  3. sue says:

    You don’t know how good it is to hear this… {{{hugs}}}

  4. Avitable says:

    And here I thought this was a post about you breaking an exercise cycle.

    (I’m really glad that you both worked through this so well. That’s just further proof that things have improved so much over the last few months.)

  5. Finn says:

    Yes, yes, yes!

  6. Robin says:

    All relationships are hard. I actually have a harder time with my friends than with my own husband but then I am used to his daily stuff more than my friends. My husband and I have been to counseling a couple times, trying to deal with life and living together and bills and jobs, it’s all fucking hard. Good for you for working it and still loving each other. I know plenty of couples that don’t work at it at all, it’s very sad to see.

  7. Lisa says:

    Good for you both! You guys are working so hard, and I’m glad it’s paying off for you.

  8. muskrat says:

    I thought would be a post about the steroids you started to get those new abs. Glad it’s not.

  9. SweetAngel says:

    Almost a year ago, I left my husband because we had our own ARGUMENT over and over a million times. We tried counseling, he walked out. I am glad you two are doing it.

    One thing that keeps sticking in my head is a story I was told. This woman I know and her husband were separated for 18 months, they did get back together because she thought, ‘I can’t be without him just because I am mad at his bad.’

  10. Michelle says:

    Oh, I am with the whole “marriage is hard” camp. We are taking a course right now that focuses more on how to love vs communicate. Its hard, super hard. But worth it. It’s really helping — a lot. Kinda marriage-changing actually.

    Hang in there!

  11. corrin says:

    It’s inspiring to hear you guys working at your marriage and making progress when my husband and I are still figuring things out.

  12. I’m so proud of you guys!

    What’s weird is, every couple has The Argument. Mine with Mike is that I feel like I don’t get a say when we have to make a choice about something seemingly trivial: a movie to watch, a restaurant to eat at, what to do, etc. He just picks for us. (We both are Type A’s, so that explains a lot.) It’s one of those things that drives me bonkers. We argue about it, I yell like a crazy lady, he withdraws, I cry. A good time is had by all.

    We have great communication, though; most of our arguments are resolved within a couple of hours. And that’s the key: communication. I’ve said it over and over again, but I think you and Jared are going to be just fine.

    You rock!

  13. Hockeymandad says:

    Wow, this was so great to read it made me smile for you guys. You guys are awesome even if I’ve only been in your presence like 3 times. Progress is great and so is working together instead of against each other.

    By the way, you don’t need to say The Argument. Every married couple knows “The Argument” is what’s for dinner and why are you making me choose when I chose last night. Duh.

  14. Nancy says:

    Good for you. Hugs to you both.

  15. That is completely fantastic.

  16. Aw Britt, I am so happy for you both. Well done to ye.
    I must remember that line “using my words instead of my fears and ager to communicate with him” in my own marraige.
    Thanks for sharing that.

  17. Sunny says:

    Your pieces seem to be falling into place! Good for you on many levels! :D

  18. “The Argument” is the reason I left. Not that it will happen to you…some people have partners who are willing to work just as hard as you are to come to some solution and save the relationship. I just wasn’t one of them.

    I know the feeling. I wish you luck and hugs.

  19. Faiqa says:

    This post is officially the highlight of my week. It was kind of shitty week, but, still. I’m really happy for you, hon.

  20. Amylou says:

    Marriage is soooo hard. Only those that know that will succeed. Thank you for your honesty.

  21. Jamie says:

    What a big step. That’s what growing together is all about. My husband and I went through our roughest patch a few years ago after 18 years together. We had never learned to communicate. But things are better than ever now. We are always growing — as is our spouse. For us the key was letting each other grow without Freaking out at the changes. It is so worth it.

  22. tawnya says:

    LOVE this. So much.

  23. Natalie says:

    Some time ago last year, I commented on one if your counseling posts and we corresponded via email briefly.

    Well, I wanted to let you know that I followed up on Imago, found us a counselor here where we live (my husband finally pushed us to actually attend) and we’ve been using the dialogue too. It’s amazing! Sometimes we slip up and we have to remind each other that we have this awesome tool we could be using and once we calm down, we do. And it rocks! Baby steps, but important steps indeed. Imago has brought a level of safety and structure to our communications never felt before. Thank you for blogging about this painful subject and this wonderful technique.

    And well done for sticking with it. It’s so wonderful you’re seeing the results.

    Sending hugs.

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