Counseling is beneficial to me. Ok, that is kind of an obvious statement. Shocking, right?? Actually, to me it isn’t so obvious. (Sorry, counselor!) I am seeing counseling now for what it is meant to be, a component of my recovery. A very important one.
Each time in my 12 step meeting, we read a definition of our addiction called “Our Problem.” At the end it states what we must do to overcome our problem. “We must attend and support recovery meetings, share with and listen to others, continue to work the 12 Steps, gratefully serve the fellowship, and reach out to others who still struggle.” There is one addition for me…counseling. I can give you an example. A very important one for me.
My counselor recently asked me to do an exercise. He asked me to start listening to my wife. I told him I do that. A lot. Evidently that wasn’t enough. So he gave me an exercise to try with her. He told me to ask her about her day. And then just shut up and listen. For 15 minutes. Without saying a word. Just see how that feels and listen to her. Ok, I can do that. That’s easy because I do that all the time. I don’t interrupt, I always listen to her about what is going on with her.
So I got home. We fixed dinner, took care of the kids, took a walk around the lake with dog, cleaned up around the house, and then finally settled in for the night. All was quiet. I asked about her day. And I shut up and listened. Only, I discovered something. I wasn’t good at it. I had to mentally stop myself from interrupting every couple of minutes. I was really surprised by how much I would have normally interjected, given her advice, told her how to handle a situation. I also discovered something else that was the most important. I heard so much more. Wow, did I miss a lot usually. She shared things that I normally would have missed. All because I listened.
This seemed like an interesting exercise, another way to connect with my spouse. Just a good practice to put in place to deepen intimacy with my wife. To put her needs above mine. Until something interesting happened to connect the dots for me. I told you, I need extra parts in my recovery because many times I miss important truths. This was one of those times.
I was having breakfast with a brother in recovery. He talked about submitting. He was mentioning how in Step 3 we turn our lives and our will over to the care of God. How submitting his will to his wife was practice for submitting to God. That made it click for me. Listening was the same way. Actually marriage is the same way.
I have missed so much in my marriage. Such important truths and learnings. Marriage by design is practice. It allows us to practice intimacy, listening, submission, communication, love…all those relational components. It is practice for us to develop a deeper intimacy with God. And I missed it. The entire time.