Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Jan. 10: Returning to the Love when We argue

I was recently moved when listening to a man whose wife had recently died. He spoke of how, on hearing a series of people give glowing remarks about her at her funeral celebration, he realized that these remarks reminded him of why he had first fallen in love with her. He then expressed his sadness at the times the two of them had wasted in their twelve years together in arguing and struggling, times when he had forgotten the reasons he had fallen in love.

What can we do when we begin to quarrel with someone we know deep down we are in love with? Amazingly enough, we can do the same things that make for a wonderful life when we are all alone.

One. Look at what’s in front of us right now. If we are arguing and our mate feels dad or angry and we look at them, we can notice: Aha! This isn’t making the person I say that I love happy. They look sad and angry. They look unhappy. Is this what I want?

Two: we can sense ourselves to see if we are aware of our breathing and are feeling relaxed and peaceful inside. Then we can notice: Aha! This isn’t making me happy.

Three: We can listen. To our own tone of voice. Is it harsh and ugly? And is that harshness hiding pain and loneliness and fear? And we can listen to our mate’s voice. Is their tone hiding sorrow, or fear, or frustration?

Four: We can notice the story to which we cling. Usually this story is some sort of “You are wrong, I am right, I am the victim.” We can ask the Byron Katie fourth question: Who would I be without the story?

Five: We can do the “Turn-around.” Whatever it is we are demanding that they shape up about, we can see that as a prescription for ourselves. Listen to me more; can I listen better? Appreciate me more: can I appreciate more? Be more fair; can I be more fair? Stop being so critical; can I stop being critical? You are so mean/selfish/thoughtless; can I stop being mean, selfish, thoughtless?

So it’s stop, look, listen. Sense ourselves and breathe. Ask ourselves: Is this making me and my friend happy? Ask ourselves, Who would I be without the story? Get a sense of honesty and humility about the imperfections in ourselves that we are projecting on to our mate.

And then: take a deep breath, say something honest, and begin to move back toward happiness and love.


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