As I mentioned in a prior post, I’m looking for the exceptions in my relationship with Husband #2.
Exceptions are the good pieces, the fun moments, the happy times that seem so scarce and rare while going through the divorce process. It’s easy to find the negatives! We’re programmed for it. Like cave men who attacked first and questioned later whether the saber-toothed tiger was friendly or ferocious. Heightened pessimism kept our early ancestors alive.
When things go south in our relationships, the tendence is to activly look for examples of behavior that support our negative view. We think things like:
- My spouse treats me poorly
- We always fight
- He never wants to hear about my day
- She always has to control things
- I deserve so much better than ________
Believe it or not, “always” or “never” are usually not really ALWAYS and NEVER. But our brains are tuned in to find the instances that support our predispositions.
So if I believe (erroneously) that Husband #2 is insensitive and uncaring, my subconscious will latch on to moments where it appears that Husband #2 is acting as such. And the more instances that the brain perceives, the stronger the belief and the greater the tendence to find more supporting acts of offending behavior.
To break this bad habit I’ve started looking for exceptions.
Exceptions are behaviors that buck the trend my brain is looking to confirm. My subconcious wants to point out all the times Husband #2 is uncaring. My conscious mind is looking for times when Husband #2 is acting in a caring way. I’ve noticed how he addresses me as “Hello, Beautiful” on our phone calls. I’ve noticed how he started calling me twice a week rather than just once. I noticed that he asked me how I felt about my weight loss…the weight loss wasn’t the important part…the “how I felt” part was.
In response to these exceptions, I’ve voiced my appreciation. I tell him things like, “I appreciate our extra phone call each week”, “I appreciate how you asked me about my feelings”, and “I like hearing that I can still turn you on after 10 years”. Yes, we flirt a bit during some of our phone calls…
As I notice more exceptions and say so, he responds by showing more caring behaviors.
We’re not out of the woods, but we’ve come so far from where we started a year ago. That is part of MY exception watching…to notice the small changes and recognize the incremental increases over time in my own life.
Our next visit with each other is coming up in a few weeks. This one is probably the most unstructured. We know little about the town and have planned nothing beyond the air travel, the hotel stay, and looking at the weather forecast. Interestingly, we’ve both expressed feelings of anticipation just seeing each other and hanging out doing nothing other than taking a drive in the country, bird watching with the hawks and eagles, and having a picnic lunch on a sunny slope. There are two items I have on my must-pack list: a black baby doll nightie that he bought me during our last trip together and my binoculars. After that, nothing really matters.
That brings me full circle to why I originally fell in love with Husband #2. It was our ability to hang out anywhere, including our first “date” trip to Home Depot, and have it be the most interesting and enjoyable experience together. It was the little things, like serving up a glass of ice water, that built our relationship up to the point where we loved each other to enough to commit, to say those words, “I can’t imagine my life without you in it.”
Slowly I return to finding those things within him…and within myself.