We were working with a couple from an Eastern state some years ago and the husband, whom I will call Rick, and I were standing outside on the deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Rick was thinking out loud, wondering how the downward spiral of his marriage relationship had started.
I looked at him and said, “Now Rick, do you really want to know the answer to that, because it might be painful to hear.” He paused but bravely answered, “Well, if I’m going to do anything about it, I guess I better know the truth.”
So I told him: “You allowed yourself to become obsolete as a husband.”
The word “Obsolete” can cut deeply into a person’s psyche and self-image. At work the last thing we want to be called is obsolete, because the unemployment line can’t be far off if that is how we are evaluated.
Just as a technology specialist can quickly become out of date if he or she does not keep up with new technologies, processes, and systems, a marriage partner can also become obsolete and out of touch in their relationship. You might call it the Dodo bird syndrome.
Perhaps you can relate to some of these patterns that bleed the life out of a marriage:
- Sometimes we don’t go to the trouble to find out what pleases our spouse and we coast on past good times.
- Often we don’t put forth the effort to grow as a communicator.
- We stop putting effort into creating special moments together through romance, dates, and moments of happy spontaneity.
- We damage trust and don’t know how to reestablish it.
- We don’t learn new skills that might help us to better manage our health, households and finances.
- We slip in our roles as parent, provider, or home manager because we don’t develop the skills or spend the requisite time.
- We stop growing toward that goal of a more refined human being.
Never make the mistake of believing that “natural ability” and being with your perfect “soul mate” will exempt you of the need to continue developing new insights, abilities, and talents that will translate to an ever growing and vibrant marriage relationship. It takes time and it takes effort. But it is time and effort that brings an infinitely joyful return on investment.
Many couples have found that the best step they have taken out of obsolescence and back into relationship relevance and fulfillment is a LIFE Marriage Retreat. It’s time to begin sharpening your saw as a part of a sacred relationship. If you can’t join us at a Retreat now, begin putting some additional effort into growing in your roles through observing your partner and what pleases them; reading the right relationship books (we suggest John Gottman as a good place to start), and just spending the time and focus on what really matters.
I am pleased to say that Rick, through dedication and effort, turned himself back into a relevant and beloved husband and father.
Obsolete is an ugly word. Don’t find yourself in such a painful place.