This is an article that was originally on the main site, but since it was not part of a longer series I thought it might be a better fit here on the blog.
Sweetheart, Darling, Honey, Sugar, Sunshine
Nutcase, Alien, Jerk, Peabrain, Prick
What’s in a name? If all you know is the label, what sort of impression do you have?
Demonization of our spouses is perhaps a necessary process for the left behind spouse who has decided to end the relationship—though I hope and wish it isn’t true. But what of those who want their spouse back at a future date?
A person can Stand for their marriage without being a Stander; that is being one who believes in the sanctity of marriage regardless of the actions of the spouse. You don’t have to be against divorce to not want it in your life. If you are Standing, or you just aren’t sure, it will be easier to give up on marital reconciliation if you demonize your spouse. Remind yourself that that the person buried inside the negative behaviour is your spouse.
Label the behaviour; your spouse is doing Nutcase, Alien, Peabrain, but he is a human being. Through the manic highs and depressive lows of the Monster, please don’t forget that the real Monster is the Crisis, not the person you married. To forget that and instead, label your spouse according to present behaviour is to risk believing the new label. You do not need to call your spouse directly with an endearment, it’s okay to relegate them to the silent recesses of your inner mind. Just don’t forget them.
If you repeat something enough, you believe it. Even through the crisis I believed Sweetheart. When I thought of him silently I thought Sweetheart. It isn’t a pet name; he is a person; he is my husband. Notice the lack of a pronoun before the name Sweetheart; it lacks possession. I don’t merely call him Sweetheart; I think of him as Sweetheart. It is a constant reminder absent of conscious effort, a reminder of my love, his love, our promises and vows. It reminded me then and continues to remind me now to look inside toward the person.
Your spouse may be treating you like dirt. He’s left you and moved in with some 23 year-old hussy who has three kids from different fathers. Or she’s moved in some guy who lives in a run-down RV in his borhter’s back yard. She may have filed for divorced—or not; but she’s told you how much she hates you and that you are the cause of all her problems. You have been accused you of being insane and paranoid, and he should be afraid you’re going to come after him. He hasn’t visited the kids in weeks and he’s not helping with the bills. But he’s driving a brand new red Porsche.
Maybe he waivered, felt bad, remorse, came home, and left within a. week, yelling and screaming like a psychotic maniac. It is easy to call him Nutcase, or let’s face it, a total Prick. It’s easy to call her a Bitch and many betrayed husbands use the much worse insult: whore. But this MLCer was not who you married. We aren’t talking about chronic cheaters here. He was a good man. He wasn’t a cheater, he went to church on Sundays and Soccer games twice a week. He earned half the money and even did almost half the housework. [Okay so that may be a tad unreal] But he was one of the good-guys. And she was a great Mom, attentive to the kids and you. Everyone thought you were the perfect couple.
Focusing on yourself is vital. Accepting your faults and changing—also vital. I’m not trying to lead you astray from those things. But while you are focusing on you, it is easier to keep your heart intact if you remember he is your husband or Honey, or at least avoid renaming him Peabrain. She is your wife or Babe, Darlin, Dear or Beautiful. I’m not speaking of the valentine heart of romance. I’m talking about keeping yourself from becoming bitter by dehumanizing another person, keep your heart pure. And if your divorce is final it’s okay to still call him your husband or her your wife if that is what you want them to be—it is your choice.
Naming isn’t for your MLCer. It’s for you. It is a subtle technique that can reinforce the positive name in your brain. The positive name brings positive feelings and memories. These in turn may help you respond with love and kindness. Each benefit created another; the same is true of detriments. Sweetheart is not perfect. But he is Sweetheart.
Labeling, what you call someone or something can be an affirmation.
Have you noticed that you feel more positively when your labels are positive or more negatively when your labels are negative?
Think of the small things you can do to protect your attitude and outlook.