Two weeks ago, I took a projective test to fulfill one of our requirements in my graduate course work. In this projective test, I was asked to narrate my own story based on my interpretation of a particular picture assigned to me. This revealed my internal thought process at the time when I took the test. And this was one of the photos assigned to me:
And here was my interpretation of the story: “The man was bothered by a problem. His wife tried to engage him with a conversation hoping that the man will share what’s bothering him. But to the woman’s frustration, the man was evasive and showed no interest in sharing whatever it is that’s disturbing him. He continued to be silent for days and the wife just let him be.”
And you know what, that was what’s actually happening to me. Just a month ago, I noticed that my husband wasn’t his usual sunny self. He was silent most of the time and wasn’t even laughing. I started to be concerned about what’s bothering him, and as a friend and wife, I want him to share with me his problem. Yet knowing that I should leave him on his cave — I let him be. I decided to wait for him to be okay and sort whatever he is struggling with.
Eventually, he did get out of his cave, and returned to his usual bubbly self. But after a few more weeks, he went silent again, and he was not sharing anything with me. I was concerned again. But aside from that, I also felt alienated. The silence and the unopeness between us was making me feel emotionally distant from him. I told myself to let him be. But then, I couldn’t let him be as the silence between us was already bothering me.
So one night, as we were about to sleep, I told him my concern. I said: “Alam mo, you seem emotionally distant from me. Parang ang layo mo, hindi kita ma-reach. Ganyan ka rin katahimik at kabothered few weeks ago. Share ka naman kung anong nag-ba-bother sayo.” I said gently and calmly.
And that’s when he opened up to me his stresses and struggles on our business. He said that he’s starting to feel depressed because of what’s going on in our business. And when he allowed himself to pour out his problems, he was relieved. I, on the other hand, was able to sympathize and comfort him. I no longer felt alienated in our relationship.
For couples, turning toward your partner by sharing your problem will greatly benefit your marriage as oppose to turning away from your partner. Turning toward strengthens the emotional bond and deepens understanding between husband and wife, while turning away alienates the other spouse and weakens the marriage when done in the long run. According to Dr. John Gottman, strong couples has a habit of turning toward their spouses. It also strengthen the love map of couples. So whenever something is bothering us, it’s okay to initially work it out alone, but make sure to turn toward our spouse and share our problem. That way, our relationship with our partners will grow closer, and our marriage will grow stronger.