As promised, I will now continue with the experience on Friday night. I already told you how we got there, what our first experience was like, the initial notes I made on the program, and the initial three questions that they asked us to write about. Here they are again with my answer following each question.
1. Why did I come here this weekend, and what do I hope to gain?
2. How can I make this weekend a disappointment for us?
3. What can I do to make this weekend a positive experience?
My answers (completely unedited except for names):
1. I came here this weekend because I really want this marriage to work. I am willing to put in the work, and I like the idea of having a program that can help. I am hoping that we will both learn tools for communicating that will make that goal easier to reach.
I am also sincerely hoping that something we learn here will make it easier for Mr. Mess to talk to me. I want to find a way that helps him be more comfortable sharing. I feel like if that can be achieved out battle is more than half-way over.
I heard that this weekend involved a lot of writing, and that is the best way that I communicate (at least I think so). Mr. Mess has also said he was going to start journaling but he never did. I know that my blog helps me to process my thoughts and feelings so I can make sense of what is going on. I want that clarity and release for Mr. Mess as well.
2. First, I have to say that I really dislike the negative phrasing of this questions. Maybe analyzing things like that is something I do that could impede progress here. Complaining is not really productive and could take away from this experience. I can’t help thinking that I really, really, really wish I had a computer and keyboard right now, though, because my hand is already killing me.
But I digress. If I want to make this weekend a disappointment I suppose I could mock, whine, moan and refuse to participate. I don’t see the point in wasting our time and money by doing that, though.
3. Participate! Not be sarcastic or mocking. Try to be open. Stop judging.
If you can’t tell already, I ran out of time for the last question. I jotted down a few quick thoughts as Mr. Mess was coming through the hotel room door. It turns out they only gave us like 10 minutes to write down our thoughts. The time varied throughout the rest of the weekend, but we discovered that writing for 10 minutes, then dialoguing for 10 minutes is the goal. 20 minutes total. At first we felt incredibly rushed and like this definitely couldn’t accomplish anything with such strict time limits.
The process isn’t about “accomplishing something” in the traditional sense of things, thought. It is designed so that we can each understand the other’s feelings. Dialoguing is NOT about solving a problem. It isn’t supposed to be the last word on an issue or topic. It can be the foundation for truly resolving conflict, though, because it allows each person to be open and unreserved with their emotions so that the other person can really try to understand what those feelings are. In this way, when we actually do try to solve the problem our defensiveness will hopefully be disarmed since we will know the other person’s heart – their feelings, fears, desires, hopes, and all of the other emotions surrounding the topic.
Photo Credit – I have to say that I love, love, love this picture!
But we weren’t there yet. We still didn’t really understand the process. Now that I do know the process, my answer above shows that. Still, that first discussion (because that’s what it was at that time) went well. We were able to read and accept each other’s answers. I also discovered that the second question was helpful to him, even though it seemed like an entirely pointless, negative and rhetorical question to me. That helped me to actually let go of my judgments and go for the rest of the ride.
As I mentioned earlier, we certainly weren’t done there for the night. I think the most productive thing for me to do is recount and describe each presentation we received and the dialog that followed. I do this NOT so that you can try to follow the program from my directions. I wouldn’t recommend that at all. It really works much better as an experience and process that the couple shares as intended.
However, I do think it will help me to really absorb the information by re-telling the events as I remember and using the extensive notes that I wrote down. I will also be glad to share my part of the dialoguing as well as additional thoughts, feelings, and experiences I had during this process. My hope is that it could influence someone to give the program a shot if they feel this format and process could work in their marriage. Remember, I am still early on in this program, so I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. I simply intend to share my insight and how the weekend (and later the post-sessions) affected me and my marriage.