Heroes and Villains: Saving Your Marriage

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My parents live over 6 hours from us, but my children have
been fortunate to be able to spend a week, each by
themselves, being spoiled by their grandparents.  We always
plan the weeks back-to-back, and meet after the first week at a
half-way point to exchange children.

A few years back, at the end of the two weeks, our son needed
to be retrieved.  So, my parents were going to meet us at the
half-way point.  I thought to myself, “there really is no reason
to drag us all there, just to grab my son and turn around to
come home.”

The week before, I had had to spend most of the week at a
work conference away from home.  But while I was away, I
explained this to my wife, thinking “wow, what a relief it will be
for her and my daughter to not have to spend 7 hours in the
car.”

I flew in Friday evening, confirmed the plans for Saturday, and
went to bed.  I was pretty proud of myself!  (That should have
been my first clue!)

Saturday morning, bright and early, I struck out.  Nobody was
even up yet.

So there I was, driving across the state, and starting through
the mountains.  The story I was telling myself?  What a hero I
was!  Everyone at home would enjoy a relaxing day, we would
be back by mid-afternoon, and hey, I was sacrificing, “taking
one for the team!”

Imagine my surprise when I called home, and my daughter
answered.  I quickly realized all was NOT OK on the homefront! 
She asked where I was.  I told her I was in the mountains,
about 45 minutes from picking up her brother.  She was quiet
and said “mom’s mad.”  Then I lost reception.

When I finally got to better reception, I realized that in my zeal
to be the hero, I didn’t really listen to my wife.  She hadn’t so
much agreed as had little chance to disagree.  She was
wanting to go, wanting to ride with me, wanting to spend
those hours in the car.  I had been gone for several days, and
now was gone again.  I would have the joy of hearing about
my son’s week.  I would see my parents, not her.

Wow!  The story in my head was NOT the story that was
happening.  In my story, I was the hero.  In my wife’s story, I
was the villain!

Who was right?

Turns out, the same thing happens to all of us!  Invariably, we
tell a story more kind to ourselves.  But if everyone is doing
that, then someone else is going to have to play the villain. 
Unfortunately, in marriages, that is often a spouse.

My point?  Simply this:  when there is conflict, we usually tell a
story that puts us in the best light, and by doing so, tell
ourselves a story that puts our spouse in a poorer light.  In
reality, neither is true.  We are never as altruistic, benevolent,
and helpful as we spin ourselves.  And nor is our spouse as
mean, malevolent, and destructive as we spin them.

Since we humans are all fiction writers at heart, making up the
scenes as we go along, it is important that we be more careful
with how we play the “protagonist/antagonist” plotline in our
minds.  In fact, I always suggest we:

1)  See others as innocent.  Everyone really tries to do the best
they can, albeit imperfectly.
2)  See ourselves as realistically as possible.  In the end, we all
want what we want, and sometimes act in ways that are less
kind than we would like to think.
3)  Realize that the plots, stories, and scripts we write in our
heads do as much to limit us as they do to comfort us.  They
comfort us by allowing us to believe what we want to believeScience Articles,
but also limit the possibilities that we need to be a bit
uncomfortable.  That is what makes us grow!

Are you ready to change the story of your marriage?  You CAN Save your marriage!  Go now to http://www.SaveTheMarriage.com

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Coffee Hour Featuring Stephanie Shirley ’09Founder and Owner of Bennis Public Relations, Inc.

Stephanie Shirley ’09 will share the highs and lows of her entrepreneurial journey, and how her Penn State experience continues to provide the knowledge and relationships that have led to her success, when she joins Alumni Association CEO Paul Clifford ’20g for Coffee Hour. Stephanie is the Founder and Owner of Bennis Public Relations, Inc. Grab your favorite morning beverage and tune in for the virtual conversation on April 28.

At the age of 23, Stephanie Shirley left her newly appointed job within Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s administration to take an entrepreneurial leap of faith and start her own PR consulting business, Bennis Public Relations.

Now almost a decade later, Stephanie has built a robust portfolio of clients across the nation including worldwide non-profit organizations, government agencies, state associations, and businesses covering just about every industry.

Stephanie has also forged “power-partnerships” with other marketing, advertising, and government affairs firms to expand her services and skills.