Guys, if you’re wondering how to “fix my marriage”, you know it can be confusing. For instance, have you ever wondered how, what you thought was the perfect solution to a problem your wife was having actually made things worse?
On New Years Eve Donna and I went to see La La Land, the Golden Globe-nominated movie starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. One scene from the movie can help explain what’s going on.
La La Land is set in Los Angeles. Ryan Gosling’s character, Sebastian, is a struggling jazz pianist, whose dream is to open a jazz club that celebrates traditional jazz music. Emma Stone’s character, Mia, is an actress trying to make it in LA.
Although money is tight, Mia and Sebastian’s romance seems otherwise idyllic. One morning, Sebastian is in the bedroom and overhears Mia talking to her Dad on the phone. Mia is defending Sebastian against her Father’s concern that their dreams are not realistic.
As Sebastian listens to the conversation, he looks up towards the ceiling of the bedroom and see’s dark water stains extending out from the corner. This, along with his new awareness that he doesn’t measure up to Mia’s Dad’s definition of what it is to be a “man”, has Sebastian become immediately clear that he’s not doing enough to look after Mia.
Prior to that, Sebastian had received an offer to join a contemporary jazz group. He declined because he loves traditional jazz, and he didn’t want to compromise his values. Thinking that he needs to make changes to look after Mia, he accepts the position. The group is successful, so what may have been a temporary gig is now a long-term commitment to touring and recording. The jazz club has to be put on the back-burner. This comes out over dinner with Mia, and she gets upset. She didn’t want him to give up his dream in exchange for financial security.
What happened? How did their wires get crossed?
In La La Land, Sebastian did the perfect guy thing. He saw a problem, he had a solution, and he did what he thought would fix the problem for Mia. His mistake was in not connecting his solution to Mia’s real problem – to what she really wanted. While the financial challenges existed, Mia was more concerned about maintaining and living their dream. She could put up with the money shortage as long as the dream was intact. Sebastian didn’t consider this. He assumed he knew what Mia wanted and acted accordingly.
Men, here’s the gold…
It’s really important to connect your production to your partner’s desire. When you do something that solves what you perceive as a problem, it’s useful to make sure you know the real problem. Avoid assumptions, even if the solution makes perfect sense to you. It’s okay to ask her to make sure you are on the right track.
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To Your Greatness!