Russ and I, married for almost thirty years, were out of whack for several weeks. I am not sure what happened, but both of us felt our relationship getting strained.
Little irritations became big irritations.
So, we made a date. Except instead of going on our date we decided to go to the Demolition Derby with our kids.
Actually, it went down like this: Russ said, “Honey, I know we were going to the movie tonight, but the demo derby is at the fair.”
Now, if you know anything about my family, you know they love the demo derby. As in bordering-on-obsession love it.
It’s actually super cute because they all feed into each other. Russ is an electrical engineer and he works at a desk all day for the sake of our family. But his real desire: to be doing anything with cars. He LOVES the roar of motors and the exhaust. He enjoys the rush that comes from a good race.
And he loves to create happy memories for his kids.
The kids love how their dad loves cars and they want to be just like him.
So there is this happy circle between the kids, Russ and the demo derby.
As Russ mentioned the derby, I stood in my kitchen while a cascade of emotions went down my fountain.
Instead of speaking, I just smiled. After all, what kind of a mother stomps her foot and demands to be taken on a date over a family date to the fun demo derby?
I pretended that I wanted to go.
We went. The kids had fun.
I woke up the next day, Sunday, with a dull yet strong ringing in my ear. It hurt. No one else had the same ringing. It plagued me all day.
Then I woke up on Monday morning and could barely get out of bed. Why not? My back was full of intense pain.
That’s when I laughed.
Oh, Lori, you have lived enough days to know what is going on.
I knew my back pain was not really back pain. Oh, it felt like back pain. But there was more to the story.
Let me explain.
Dr. John Sarno has done extensive work on the mind/body connection. He has discovered that our pain can be related to suppressed stress and anger.
The premise: instead of acknowledging emotional pain, our body distracts us with physical pain.
I’ll just use my own example: I had a need. I had a need to be with my husband. And it had been several weeks since we had connected as a couple, since I’ve been hard at work on a project.
I needed my man.
Yet when the opportunity to take our children to a fun event came up, it seemed like the logical thing to do. And what kind of a mother would I be if I demanded that I deserved a date over my children’s needs/desires?
I didn’t talk this out with Russ, because it was all going on down in the depths of Lori.
I put on my “I am a good mama” hat and went to the derby.
And, according to Dr. Sarno, my body was doing this fabulous thing. It knew I was feeling off-balance emotionally so it decided to distract me with PHYSICAL pain.
It was easier to deal with “Wow, my back hurts today” rather than, “I am a selfish mother.”
So how did this all resolve?
I read Dr. Sarno’s book, Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection
He told me to deal with the repressed feelings. So I did. It felt odd, but I journaled about my emotions not being met and how I just wanted to be with my husband. I brought everything from the depths and into the light.
He taught me that my back pain was a cover up that my brain was utilizing and I could just say that I didn’t need it, thank you very much. Yes, he encouraged me to talk to my brain.
“Back pain, thank you, but I don’t need you. I can deal with this. I will deal with this. All will be well.”
The back pain left. I know. Odd.
Then I kindly told Russell that we were going on a date that night. Yes, it was Wednesday, the best night for dates, ba boom.
We talked. We were vulnerable, sharing our feelings about our relationship. We listened to each other.
As we talked, we really got back to the essence of Russ and Lori.
This is what I know to be true: my relationship with my husband is the most vital human relationship in my life. We NEED to protect that relationship and make it a priority.
I have been busy creating and filming “The Parenting Dare,” an online course for parents. It feels like I am giving birth. It’s a big baby, over nine months in development.
Russ is totally supportive. He knows how “The Parenting Dare” has already changed families. It’s exciting to be involved in something that transforms the parent/child relationship from the inside out.
Yet Russ and I deserve some of that time, too. And not just a quick kiss at the end of the day, but T-I-M-E to explore and discuss and be with each other.
Most husbands are, by and large, just like mine, kind, loving and engaged. They want to please us. We just have to be willing to talk. We have to be willing to make the time to connect with them and express our desires in a way that arouses something besides frustration.
There are many specifics on HOW to do that, which I will explore in my next post, “Creating a Marriage that Inspires.”