I always end the year by writing about my accomplishments, failure, regrets and resolutions. I love this time of year because the calendar naturally moves me to reflect and take action. This post is all about 2018 resolutions.
Earlier this year, my marriage needed a tune-up. To be fair, all relationships require regular maintenance. Mine was just long overdue. People get old, grow apart, find themselves in different places and wonder why it took so long to notice. Following the advice of a dear friend who sat down with me at SHRM in New Orleans, I gave my marriage the full attention it deserves and found a counselor.
Now, I find the intersection of psychology and consumerism to be fascinating. The first role of a counselor is to be honest. The second is to offer some hope. The third is to take your money and make you feel good about the exchange. Rarely do those three imperatives line up smoothly.
We saw a therapist who came highly recommended. I’m sure she is a lovely human being, but she’s a horrible businesswoman. Our sessions started late even though her office was in her basement. She never seemed to remember who we were or why we were there and often had to refer back to her files while simultaneously talking to us. She also sent out messages to her MailChimp email list about her troubles filing claims with BCBS. And once, while trying to make a point about first-world problems, she said that real problems hit you in the face.
Correct, by the way. Real problems do hit you in the face. But real problems also hit you in the heart.
After a few sessions, sitting in her office felt like the Twilight Zone. The one thing this counselor was good at doing? Uniting us in a shared belief that she needed to take a business class through the SBA.
There were a few good moments, though, where I learned a lot about myself and marriage. The counselor told me that continually putting my husband and relationship under a microscope is counterproductive. Instead of airing my grievances, I should make a list of the things I want to improve in my life and get to work.
So, with that in mind, I identified a few things that I want to address.
• Drink less and/or quit drinking 100%
• Stop ruminating
• Manage my anger and hopelessness
• Stop watching too much TV and surfing the web in the evening
• Exercise more consistently like I did just a year ago
• Talk less, listen more
• Work on improving my professional career
• Spend more time with friends
• Build and stick to a better budget
None of this has anything to do with my marriage, but all of it could improve my marriage. Or not. That’s not the point. Do it, anyway, because it must be done.
So, I’ve been tackling my list for the past few months. None of it is easy, and it’s not like I’ll ever finish the work. However, shifting my focus from the cracks in my marriage — to the flaws in my own foundation — has been helpful. In retraining my gaze, I’ve noticed that the relationship I have with my husband has improved a little. The relationship with myself is waaaaaaaaaaay better.
Reminds me of this Derek Walcott poem.
Love After Love – Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
I hope to feast on my life in 2018. That’s my resolution. Hope you can feast on yours.