I love to think that it’s never too late to change a relationship pattern.
That’s what happened to Henri a few years ago, and I’m so grateful I got the opportunity to witness it.
Henri is a friend of my dad. He’s approximately 75, lives in the country, and I usually see him mowing his lawn in the village or sharing a glass of red wine late at night with my dad.
We’re not incredibly close, but we happened to walk into each other one day, and he asked if I could maybe give him some reflection on a situation with his wife.
Eager to land a helping hand to a friend of the family, I obliged.
He and his wife went into a big argument the day before because of how he talked about an expense. He then proceeded to explain to me with great detail the financial situation that caused their disagreement.
“Why do you think this is making her so mad?” I asked. He said he had no clue because the maths seemed really fair to him.
It was easy to figure out from the outside: he thought his wife was angry about the money, and she was mad about the way he talked about the money because it made it seem like she was not participating financially.
Now they were avoiding eye contact, talking in one-word sentences, and assuming the feud between them would last for days.
And because arguments are rarely about the facts and more about the emotions related to the facts, I quickly pointed this out and asked him how he felt. And then how he thought his wife was feeling. It won’t surprise you to know they were both miserable since the argument.
And then he did something very brave. He took his phone and wrote, “We are both suffering from the situation, and I don’t want that for us. I love you, I want us to find a way to work this through. I get that the money is irrelevant, and I want to understand how you feel.”
By the time he pressed “send,” I was slowly crying inside from all that love and vulnerability I witnessed but trying not to embarrass this manly country man with my emotions, as he had enough on his plate, really.
He came and found me in the family garden a few days later to let me know that things were much better at home and that they were giving each other gestures of affection again.
It’s never too late to learn to have an argument like an emotional badass and to stay connected as a couple even when you disagree on something!
I LOVE that at 75, Henri was willing to try something new and to keep working on his relationship to restore the love and safety they used to give each other.