Friday, March 16, 2012

Girl's Best Friend: You Can't Stay Together If You Grow Apart

When riding the Tube in London, there’s a phrase you hear over and over again, “Mind the Gap.” The recorded message is your reminder that there’s a large space in between the platform and the train. It cautions you to be aware of the gap between the two so you don’t fall and hurt yourself. The same is true when gaps begin to form in relationships, you must mind the gap before it gets too big and hurts your relationship. 

At the end of last year, I was speaking with one of my sister-friends who has been experiencing a difficult time in her marriage. She and her husband both travel extensively for work and lately, their schedules have not matched. This period followed another rough period in which they had a major disagreement on parenting.

“Find a way to close the gap between you right now or else it will grow, possibly to an irreparable point,” I admonished. Often, we seek to avoid confrontation and pain becoming ambivalent to situations because it’s easier. Ambivalence, however, is a cancer to a relationship. By not addressing their issues and allowing the distance to grow she was cultivating a bigger problem that could ultimately result in them being completely disconnected.

Our conversation also made me think of when I was practicing law. I hated it. The more I said I hated it, the more I did. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. It wasn’t until someone gave me the wise advice to stop affirming my hatred of the job that I was able to bear the final two years of practice.

I encouraged my sister-friend to find the time to speak with her husband about ways they could work on their marriage. Also, find moments for them to reconnect. I found out that they hadn’t been on a vacation alone since their son was born eight years ago. They needed the opportunity before the distance grew too wide.

Two inverse principles were at play here; that which you give energy/attention to grows in your spirit.  For me, it was the hatred of my job. For my sister-friend, it was the disconnection she was feeling from her husband. Conversely, in relationships, problems you ignore can also grow.

Over Valentine’s Day weekend, my sister-friend and her husband went on a five-day Caribbean vacation. Nothing like some sand and sun (and cocktails) to put the pep back in your step and in your relationship. Well, my plan worked far better than I imagined. Yesterday, I found out that she’s pregnant again. And, they’ve managed to rekindle their once strong romance.  As a matter of fact, they’re headed on another couple’s vacation in two weeks. It took a minimal amount of effort, but yielded major results.


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