Saturday, September 24, 2011

Do Unto Others

Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.
~ Udanavarga 5:18

One of the most common causes of communication breakdown in a couple is the inability of one or both partners to communicate their needs. Generally, rather than verbalizing what we want, we drop hints (sighing, dragging our feet, complaining) then get angry at our partner for not reading our minds. To compound the problem, since nobody is saying what they need, we rely on The Golden Rule and give our partners what we want instead of what they want, while our partners are doing exactly the same thing. So everybody feels like they're giving without getting and nobody's needs are being met and you both get frustrated and end up hurting each other.

As one client said, “I've treated my husband the way I would like to be treated and then I've expected reciprocity. This has led to so much disappointment because, well, he is not me. I have been so angry for so long and have said a lot of things that I regret.”

Give your partner a chance to meet your needs. Tell him what you want.

And, rather than doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, go Silver instead. Better yet, as my dear mentor Robert Misrahi once said: “Do unto others as they would have themselves be done unto”.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Paradise or Hell

The smaurai drew his sword and Hakuin said:
"Here open the gates of hell!"
At these words the samurai, perceiving the master's discipline, put away his sword and bowed. And Hakuin said:
"Here open the gates of paradise".

~ from The Gates of Paradies (a Zen koan)

When you are hurt and want to tell your partner, say it gently, like someone who is hurting rather than someone who is demolishing a wall. Do not anticipate resistance by raising your voice or eyebrows, or wagging your finger menacingly because you fear your concerns will land on deaf ears. It is not necessary to shout to be heard (actually, whispering is more effective). Refrain from using you-statements and do not be afraid to expose your vulnerability just because you want to cut clean boundaries or expect impingement. If you brandish a sword or even sound defensive you are unlikely to meet with a sympathetic ear because you will have tweaked your partner's defenses.

Start with "I feel..." then really tell your partner how you feel, not what you think or what you fear or what you know to be true. There is no truth, just subjective reality, your inner landscape or vécu. Paint a portrait of it for your partner with your words and invite them in to take a look.

Friday, September 9, 2011

No Exit

Closing your exits is essential to gathering vital energy into a crucible where transformation and sublimation occur. You want to pour your energy into a vessel without leaks. Without closing your exits, you have one foot in and one foot out, you spill your energy into secondary activities that blur your focus. Your efforts will be scattered and diffuse.

In order to strengthen your couple, it is necessary to make a conscious effort to stay within it when conflict and tensions arise. This means using negative energy in a constructive way, rising to the challenge you and your partner are facing, and finding a way out that is also a way in, going deeper into the relationship rather than avoiding it.

Too often, when the heat is on, we seek an out; we want to escape. But by avoiding the problem we just put it off to another time. We do not mend or transcend it.