During my Free4All podcast interview with Rob Fludder, we talked about burnout recovery and Rob asked me how my husband James and I were with each other during that extremely difficult time. I think my answer surprised him and may surprise you. (If you prefer video, scroll to the bottom of this post.)
James and I were incredibly patient with each other.
Not likely what you’d expect from two people at their wits end and me struggling to function outside of routine. But it’s true. We both understood that, for the most part, we were both in the same place. And I think that’s what made the difference with how we dealt with each other.
Knowing that the other was dealing with the same mounting pile of situations that just didn’t want to quit, knowing we were both in the trenches, knowing we were both stressed, both depressed, both waiting for the other shoe to drop at any time (and they kept dropping!) We didn’t need to put effort into explaining how we felt. And that is a really big deal.
Trying to make someone understand where you’re at takes a lot of energy and focus. Explaining can be draining. Not saying that’s not important. It is. But in our situation, we didn’t need to explain it. We were both in it, equally.
So, how did we deal with each other? With extreme patience. I knew he was feeling the same (or very similar) as me and he knew how I was feeling. So, there was nothing to argue about. We were both exhausted. We got it. We could both see light at the end of the tunnel, we just didn’t know how long the tunnel was. (In the end it was a year and half long.) But we knew we’d eventually see the light get bigger, we just had to wait it out. And maybe that helped us along too… that spec of light in the distance was hope. We knew some of the major stresses would come to an end. We just didn’t know when. It was the waiting that added so much pressure to our stress. But we knew if could just hang on, that light would grow.
That speck of hope likely played an important role in our dealing with the situations that slammed us. We knew one day we’d walk away from most of it. So, there was no point in taking our frustrations, anger and stress out on each other. It would serve no purpose.
With the burnout in full force there was no point in becoming yet another layer of stress for each other. And I can’t tell you how thankful we are that we were able to hold it together for each other. Our relationship is so much stronger now because of it.