My husband and I recently found ourselves at the brink of marriage failure and in clawing our way back we encountered the single best piece of marital advice we’ve ever heard. Actually it’s the only advice that’s ever rang true, right and doable over the very long haul that every marriage is. It’s advice that’s ethereal in its authenticity and power. When we encountered it we knew without a doubt that heeding this instruction was how we would get back to our set point and even soar beyond what we’ve been settling for and on to new heights. The reason we knew it was going to work for us is because we had not done it with much regularity in the 20 years we have been married and we recognized this to be where we went wrong.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m gifted. Incredibly gifted in fact, with more than one thing even. I am a dancer and a writer and I am amazingly gifted with both abilities. On the off chance you’re still reading and not gagging on my arrogance I hope you’re reading me correctly. Just to be sure, please make special note that I am not saying I am gifted AT dancing or writing, but WITH them. This is a huge distinction and one I think adds huge value to the conversation.
During a couples counseling session with my husband about a year ago, our counselor looked at me and asked, “Jodie, what do you do for yourself that brings you joy?” I stared back at her blankly and started to feel hot and itchy. I could not answer the question. My husband and I were at a rock bottom place in our marriage. We were just beginning to attempt to recover from his newly revealed infidelity and at that point my days were filled with despair, anger, anxiety, grief, a sense of loss, uncertainty, insomnia, the inability to catch my breath (quite literally), shame, regret and I’ll just stop myself here because I could list every negative and unwanted emotion under the sun and be acutely accurate in my description of what those early days of recovery were like. So when she asked me what I did to summon joy, I had nothing, nada, zip, zilch, zero to come back to her with.