When things get difficult, I have a tendency to bear down…to grit my teeth, tense my shoulders, and push my way through.
Or…I shut down altogether.
A lesson I could (and should) follow, instead, is to lean in.
I read a story recently about a boy who was pass a set of Chinese handcuffs in school. He didn’t know what they were, but like any curious being, he stuck his fingers in the ends and found himself (as expected) trapped. It didn’t matter how hard he pulled, he was stuck. Suddenly, it dawned on him that he might need to change tactics, and so he did the opposite of pulling and fighting his way out. He pushed his fingerips together, and the handcuffs loosened, setting the boy’s fingers free. He leaned in to the problem…and the problem let go.
Pulling away from a problem, hiding from it, ignoring it, and fighting back don’t often get us the results we seek. But leaning in…listening, accepting, forgiving, embracing…these actions allow us to let a challenge become a learning and growth opportunity rather than an enemy to defeat.
I find myself applying this logic to my current situation.
My libido has been on the lam since mid July, which has led to some pretty serious marital issues. Because my libido has often given me fits, it’s easy for me to stick my fingers in my ears and la-lal-la-la my way past conversations over his hurt and frustration. My internal dialogue follows the “I can’t help it…it isn’t my fault” path as I sigh deeply and roll my eyes as we enter our 17th conversation this month over “what we’re going to do about it.” But we’ve gotten to the point where people are crying themselves to sleep and feeling basically disconnected, unwanted, and blamed. There is guilt. There is resentment. There is hurt. There is anger. All the best ingredients for a relationship disaster at full-boil.
The thing is, I can’t ignore it. Even if I truly believe “I can’t help it…it isn’t my fault.” I can’t la-la-la-la when the man I love is heartbroken over our decent into “the intimacy wasteland.”
Rather than clam up and refuse to budge (because this simply isn’t a humane option), I have to lean in. I have to find the ONE THING that mignt make a difference right now…tonight. Even if it doesn’t solve the problem, it’s a step forward, rather than a step away.