Vanessa reached her front door as her two preteen kids gathered their beach gear from the backseat of the car. She put the key in the lock. As she turned it, she knew her marriage was over. John hadn’t changed the lock.
He hadn’t done a single thing to secure the house, even though she’d taken the kids to her mother’s place at the beach for three days after someone broke into the house again. Her belongings, her children, her safety — all remained vulnerable to attack. Did John care?
Inside, John was reading the latest mystery. He’d enjoyed the quiet without the kids, but he’d missed Vanessa. He got up to welcome her back with a kiss. She brushed him aside and kept going. In the kitchen, the cabinet door’s knob still sat on the counter, next to the bolt from the lawnmower. Was he unable to do anything to take care of their home? Although these items had gone undone for four months, today they added to Vanessa’s ire.
Back in the living room, John was feeling invisible again. Vanessa always seemed so involved with the kids and so uninvolved with him lately. He wondered if it was still worth making any effort at all to stay connected.
What if we could stop them both right where they are, freeze time for moment, and help them Assume Love?
- Assume you are completely loved by a wonderful person.
Not easy to do when you’re feeling afraid or disrespected. But if either of them would try it for 60 seconds, it might turn their marriage around and bring them a great deal of happiness.
- Attempt to explain how such a person might come to do what just happened.
John’s sitting, reading, and apparently glad to see Vanessa come home. That’s pretty much what she’d hope for if there were no huge security issue looming over them. It’s possible he doesn’t get how frightened she is. Or perhaps he sees calmness as a way of dealing with threat.
Vanessa took the kids away without discussing it with him, which seemed OK until she ignored him on her return. If she stills cares for him, then there must be something big on her mind. Could she still be feeling unsafe here, even though he explained why it makes no sense to move now?
- If you can think of one or more explanations that might possibly apply to your real life situation, too, decide whether you choose to react to the negative explanation or to one of these positive possibilities.
There’s a huge difference in how Vanessa will treat John if she sees him as lazy and undependable, threatening her security and the kids, and if she sees him as not yet understanding her fear. John, too, must choose whether he’ll behave like someone unimportant to Vanessa or someone extremely important to resolving a big problem she’s facing right now.
- If you choose one of the positive ones, check whether it teaches you something new about how your spouse loves you.
Wouldn’t it be great if John could crack the code and realize that when Vaness avoids him, it’s because she’s angry, not because she has no place for him in her life? And if Vanessa realized that while she’s waiting for John to show his love by doing something for her, he’s already showing it by kissing her?
It takes only a few seconds to Assume Love and take a second look. John didn’t do it, so he sees himself even more cut off from his wife and kids, and soon he may watch them move out. Vanessa didn’t assume love, either, and she’s asking friends to confirm that a good for nothing husband is worse than no husband at all.
I heard of Vanessa and John (fictional names with some details of their story altered) through a mutual friend. I don’t know whether any of her friends has mentioned that married women can call the same locksmiths as divorced women. Or that there’s a technique called the Third Alternative for working with John to find a way to meet Vanessa’s need for physical security and John’s for financial security.