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My spirit is awake again but my marriage to my husband has turned stale - how can I continue to develop as an individual?

heart to heart Question
I have been married for 13 years and we have a 12 year old son. Our life together, until this point, was very difficult. We came from a country that was affected by war and we met and got married in another country, then moved to the USA in 1997 - so our life together was mostly surviving difficult times.

About one and a half years ago I enrolled into acupuncture study that had a spiritual background. When I started it, my life became very complicated emotionally and I lost interest in my husband and my son. I wanted to be on my own - it almost seemed like my spirit was awake again. I decided to take a break from the studies and see what was going on with my marriage and my family life.

One part of me wants to stay married and find deeper meaning within my relationship, but the other part wants to be free and explore new things. I feel very unhappy within myself and my marriage. I can't say that I am in love with my husband, there is respect and friendship, but what is going through my mind 24/7 are thoughts of divorce. I wish that somehow I can find some meaning in my "stale" relationship and continue to develop as an individual.

Wallace's reply
Wallace I'd like to start his discussion by pointing out that your situation is surprisingly common. I am sure many of our readers will be able to empathize with you. You have embarked on a path of personal development and now feel your relationship with your marriage partner is unfulfilling. You yearn to feel free and explore new things while at the same time feel a loyalty toward your husband, with whom you have been through so many hard times.

The question you need to ask is why do you not feel free in your present marriage? Why can you not explore new things in your life together with your current partner? Maybe this is your challenge. Will it be possible to meet this challenge while your head is full of thoughts of divorce? What you visualize tends to materialize in your life. Therefore I suggest you refrain from visualizing divorce and instead visualize having a perfect relationship with your husband.

Then while actually visualizing the kind of relationship you want I suggest you start to act and behave toward your husband as if you already had the relationship you visualize. This will help you feel more loving toward your husband. Then, as your love grows I suggest you have a conversation with your husband and share your vision for the kind of marriage you would like with him. Ask him in turn about the kind of marriage he would like. Listen carefully to his views and through your conversation seek a shared vision of your life together. It is not too late to reinvent your marriage and in so doing breathe new life into it.

You have embarked on a path of personal development through your acupuncture course. You are reacting with strong emotion to the training program and, at times, feel like withdrawing from your relationship. Powerful periods of personal development and growth are very demanding and, like the caterpillar, we may feel a need to retreat from life and weave a cocoon so we can be on our own. However remember that the caterpillar eventually emerges from the cocoon, renewed and ready for life in a new way. It is natural that these changes in you will bring about changes in the kind of relationship you have with your husband. I suggest you keep lines of communication open with your husband and share with him how you are feeling as you go through the training program and the different needs you have as they arise.

See your husband, not as a barrier to your personal development, but as your spiritual teacher and companion on the path. In a marriage there are always three journeys to be made through life. There is your own journey which is to be decided by you alone, your husband's journey to be decided by him alone and your journey together which you decide together. All three journeys need to be nurtured, respected and given the freedom to develop. Are you doing this?

Your husband needs to be free to travel his journey through life. By giving him this freedom, you are creating the conditions for your freedom to travel your journey to also be respected and nurtured. You say there is respect and friendship and I am encouraged by this - for these two are the foundations of love.

You have both been through many hard times together and you have stayed together. You had need of each other then - to support each other through the hard times. These hard times have gone and your reason for being together needs to change as a result. Now you need to support one another on your respective journeys and to create a vision of a shared life together with respect, friendship and eventually, love.

Further Help and Resources
I also suggest you read the short article in our Quick Coach section: 'How We Avoid Conscious Relationships' by Hether Ayres. It gives guidelines on creating intimacy and communication within a relationship.

I suggest you read and do some of the exercises with your husband in Peter Shepherd's Communication and Relationships Course. Doing some of the exercises on this course will help open up communication channels between you and your husband which have remained closed.

To the reader:
This lady's circumstances have changed. She has embarked on a life transforming course and this is changing the nature of her relationship with her husband. She is having difficulties creating a shared vision with her husband for her marriage. Have you ever experienced a similar situation? If so, how did you get through it? This lady would like to know and hear about your experiences. Her marriage is in difficulties and your support would make a big difference to her at this critical time.

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