• Keith Shaw

The Gap

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

Autumn 2016. Rain and more rain. I was on high having come back from my MBA graduation, new car, successful hunt in BC and looking forward to salmon fishing and fun coming up. Tanja was away on one of her routine business mastermind meeting in San Diego. Tanja had grown her business from a solopreneur with a car and website to a smooth operating studio with a team of employees and solid revenues that had impressed so much that her firm won business of the year in our community for 2014.

I had always supported the business trips to Florida, California and Arizona as Tanja came back more clear on action plans and ways forward with the support of the group and this time was not different.

Then suddenly it was different.

Like a flu or, more acutely like a punch in the gut, the most profound feelings of dread for our relationship came over me while Tanja was away. I can’t say what triggered it or if it was the universe tapping me on the shoulder asking me to take notice. I realized Tanja was connecting and getting fulfillment, real engagement and challenge from her mastermind, and that I was no part of it at all.

For the remainder of her trip I tried to cope. I told myself it was the weather (terrible that year). I told myself I was simply jealous of her opportunity to see new places and that I should grow up. I saw Tanja enjoying herself and, like before I wanted to be happy but the sinking feeling was undeniable.

Then I got angry.

I decided that Tanja was becoming selfish. I decided that now that her firm showed income she was able to use it to bizcation, leave the boring homeland and enjoy life unfettered by the responsibilities of the family. To be clear this was not the case. The blame game lasted a few days and I’ll save the details that are neither interesting/relevant for the reader, nor flattering to the writer.

Then it hit me.

Tanja was on a journey, an awesome one. I was finishing my own journey through the MBA, and the routine restructurings that occur in corporate environments. I had sensed it though. The year before I’d asked to join her on the mastermind trip to Phoenix. While Tanja worked I would station by the pool to finish the final papers I needed to for my degree. When Tanja asked me not to come (and Tanja I know had no ill intent, despite this…) I’d been hurt. I accepted that she needed to focus and the social time with the group was as valuable as the formal sessions but was let down.

I had been excluded from her real life. Or so I thought as I spiraled down...

The Gap, as I define it, is the figurative space that exists between two people, previously connected, that results when one or both partners fulfill goals and agendas without the awareness and participation of the significant other. Like the space that would grow between two people walking on an open beach if they closed their eyes, let go of hands, and walked in silence.

The intention for growth is positive, but the growth at different speeds or in different directions can be fatal to a marriage. Tanja was growing and was unaware of how her growth and my exclusion from it was dangerous.

I’ll describe in the next article what I did next and the solutions that Tanja and I came up with together to address the Gap. I want to raise the awareness of this situation with people as more and more of us work to improve ourselves, I hope we can do so and strengthen our relationships at the same time.

If you made it this far, please connect with me if you have something to add as I continue to describe this topic. I will cover how to recognize the gap, how I communicated to bring Tanja and I back together and how we go forward to prevent the Gap from ever occurring again. Private message of course is fine.

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