Calm, Cool and Committed

Three Moms and a Dude

The power of the buffing wheel…

on August 20, 2012

A few days ago I was looking at some of our wedding pictures hanging on the wall, and what caught my eye immediately was how bright our wedding rings looked. I remembered that while we were on our honeymoon, a waiter at a restaurant guessed that we were newly-weds based solely on how lustrous our rings were at the time. After staring for a moment at the picture, I looked down at the same ring on my finger: tarnish. Four years will do that to brilliant metal.

I went down to the basement, fired up my buffing wheel, and buffed my wedding ring. Logistically this was not comfortable. For starters, my wedding ring is small – buffing a wedding ring is not the same as buffing an old candle stick: I had to be nimble yet deliberate whilst maintaining a tight grip on the ring. This brought about my next problem: heat. As if holding on to the ring was not difficult enough due to its size, now it was really starting to get hot. I tried wrapping an old rag around the ring in order to relieve some of the pain on my fingers, but this hindered me from really getting the metal against the buffing wheel. Once I finished buffing the ring, it looked darker than when I had started; in fact, I started to wonder if I had made a terrible mistake. Then I remembered what my dad taught me about buffing metal: the buffing is step one, the polish is step two. I grabbed a clean rag, and I polished my ring like there was no tomorrow. And when I finished – brilliance. My wedding ring had never looked so good.

As I was putting my now brilliant wedding ring proudly back onto my finger, I started thinking about my marriage: it has a bit of tarnish. Four years can do that to a marriage. My wife and I do not fight – we don’t scream or yell; we don’t call each other names. But sometime we argue, and there was a time when we communicated better. There was a time when after spending more than the length of one work day apart, we could not wait to get home to each other. Those days are not gone, but they have become muddled through time and a lack of attention.

If your marriage is at all like mine, then you know what I mean when I say that relationships can fall into patterns. You say one thing and your spouse hears another; you think you’re disagreeing humbly, but they are getting offended by your arrogance; you didn’t mean to invalidate your spouse’s feelings, but they are genuinely hurt by your inclination to trivialize their point of view. And if your marriage is at all like mine, then you know what it feels like to have the same conversations over and over in an attempt to fix these patterns. However, since these conversations seemingly yield no results, they are simply repeated, and now the conversations themselves are just another unhealthy pattern. These patterns are abundantly common, and they can quickly take the brilliance away from a marriage. I am not ok with these patterns. I don’t see these patterns as major problems now, but if they aren’t addressed, then I see them becoming gateways to major problems in the future.

After pondering this for a while, I tried to come up with a solution. In the end, I decided to suggest marriage counseling. I know the stigma behind counseling: couples go to counseling because they are having major problems; couples go to counseling because it’s their last hope; couples go to counseling because they scream and yell. I don’t buy it. While some of these may be true for some couples, they simply don’t apply to my marriage. So why do I want marriage counseling? I want marriage counseling because I see it as a buffing wheel that can bring some brilliance back to my marriage. I want marriage counseling because I don’t know how to fix everything. I want marriage counseling because I need someone who knows more about marriage than me to say, “Thedude, did you ever think about it from this angle?” I can’t stress enough that my wife and I have a pretty great marriage: we laugh, we get along, and we’re still in love with each other. But we have some patterns of communication that are simply unhealthy, and I’m not ok with allowing those patterns to become norms.

When I suggested counseling to my wife, she was hesitant at first because counseling is a time commitment, and we’re busy people (what couple isn’t busy these days?). But my feeling is simple: what’s more important than having a healthy marriage? I told my wife that I wouldn’t try to convince her, but that I wanted her to think about it. Within a few hours, she approached me and said she was excited to dive deeper into our marriage. I’ll tell you a secret: that was sexy. There is nothing more attractive to a man than to hear his wife say that she wants to make their marriage better. We got referred to a licensed counselor through our church, and we start in a few weeks.

I can probably guess what some of you are thinking right now: “Well that’s good for thedude and his wife, but me and my spouse would never need counseling – we can fix our own problems.” Hey, maybe you’re right. Maybe you and your spouse have been having the same arguments over and over, but you’ll quit when you’re good and ready. It is certainly not for me to say that counseling is always the answer. I am sure that not everyone needs counseling, but I think it would be hard to find a marriage that couldn’t benefit from it.

I know this won’t be all kittens and rainbows. It’s probably going to get a little uncomfortable and pretty heated, but we will hold on tight. And what I have to keep telling myself is that the counseling is only step one – I’ll call that the buffing step; actually using the counseling and making positive changes is step two – I’ll call that the polishing step. In the end, I know that my marriage is going to be brilliant again. And I can’t wait.


2 responses to “The power of the buffing wheel…

  1. Mea says:

    Love this! Nicely written. I especially like that it gave me pause!

  2. Love the analogy and best wishes on journey together!

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