Your partner is your team mate; not an opponent.
The goal – when discussing something in a relationship, but also more in general – should be to find a solution, a common ground; to make progress; not to win arguments.
This is life, it’s not about who knows the most; it’s not about getting grades or making an impression. It does not matter who is ‘right’ and who is ‘wrong’. It does not matter who has the most unresolved psychological traumas: we all do.
One of our clients, some time ago, was having issues at home with his partner. They are living together and have a small child together. They both work and rhythms are intense. He was angry at her because she kept saying that he had psychological issues and he should go in therapy. In turn, he was denying having any issue whatsoever, and he thought the issue laid with her.
I simply told him: “Either way, it is not a competition about who’s the craziest of the two. We all have our issues, we all have our pains. The goal should be to move forward, to heal, to make progress. Think about what example you are showing your kid. Why don’t you suggest her to just be kind and brave together, take each other by the hand, and go to couple’s therapy?”
He immediately calmed down, understood what I said, took the advice, and they are now going thru some counseling sessions, and some issues are unblocking in their relationship. It’s great to see steps made towards building bridges and opening to common understanding. The purpose should always be to overcome our limits, heal and grow together.
Unfortunately when you see something as an attack in what your partner says, it usually indicates there is something unhealed right there in you. Otherwise you would not be bothered by it.
Refrain from biting into that feeling of separateness, of duality, of conflict.
Nobody is trying to be mean to you; let alone your partner – at least not consciously! If he or she does, it’s because there’s some deeply hurt child there somewhere that is lost and needs nurturing. It might be also a combination of both yours and your partner’s fears and unhealed wounds playing a role in those dramatic moments. It is worth exploring those feelings with detachment, approach them analytically, see where they come from. Start from your own side rather than pointing out the other’s. And ask him or her for help to make this process conscious. Do not try to attack your own emotions and thoughts, and do not get infatuated with them either. First try to understand with deep analysis where do they originate? What are the patterns that we have absorbed early on and we keep repeating with automatic pilot? There are many methods for this: therapy, meditation, oracle cards, art, dreams, prayer, etc. Whatever works.
Many couples come to us and ask us what is our secret?
The main secret is that we respect and love each other a lot, and we spend a lot of time together. We talk a lot. We are best friends.
We have the same interests, or where we don’t, we are interested in learning from each other about what we do differently, and how, and why.
We almost never go out with friends, with don’t go out partying very often, we keep a very healthy and frugal diet and rhythms for ourselves and the kids. We basically limit all of the ‘optional’, and we avoid being overwhelmed – or allow plenty of time to recover. The last option is really rare, since with a family with kids you just do not have a lot of time available, but you accept it for what it is. Being in traffic and in places with other people outside of the house is already a psychic experience that I need to wash off with a shower when I am back home: so many emotions floating! But a shower is a 10-minutes fix.
When we tried going partying for even one night, the sleep deprivation afterwards made sure we had a hard time dealing with our own emotions for a week or two, until we fully recovered. It’s not that you cannot do certain things or indulge certain luxuries, but if the price to pay for those is higher than the return, then we typically prefer to chose the path of least resistance and get more actual stuff done and keep more energy for what really matters.
A friend of mine, who’s also 40, prides himself of having had sex with over seven hundred women.
When he told me this I replied the truth: that I only did it with a handful of people, instead, and that I quickly figured out that bodies are just bodies: they change, they break, they age, they die and they rot. The body is an instrument, and it all depends on how you play it. Sex is great but shape doesn’t constrain it. Souls are what matters, and what you connect with. That was when I was in my early twenties, and we were hanging out largely with the same crowd, my friend and I. But, admittedly, he did not come to the same holiday where I met Jyothi.
My soul knew from that first time when I ever met her – in that holiday in 1995 – when I talked to her and kissed her for the first time that something extremely special was at play. For example, that week I all of a sudden felt inspired and got ‘told’ (this was divine guidance, literally dictated in my head), the chords to play a certain song on my guitar: I had previously never played this song, and I had not heard that in years. It was an italian song about a peasant’s wedding party, which used to be on an old record in my grandparent’s home when I was a kid. One minute I was barely remembering this song existed, and fifteen minutes later I had a piece of paper with a series of notes on it written by my hand – I didn’t know how.
But these miracles were not enough, then, for I was fearful: we were basically teenagers living in two different countries, and we did’t have the guts to follow thru our feelings and take some action about it. After the short holiday, we went different ways, but then the year after we met again, again by chance! How many signs do you need? I decided to do something about it this time. I had a girlfriend at the time and my parents (especially my mother) were convinced I would have ended up marrying her… while I did love that girl, I clearly loved Jyothi more, because we could not help but elude my ‘official’ girlfriend and make love that night. Which happened on the new, larger, bed that had just been installed in my bedroom on that day, gift of my mum, yet untested. Yes maybe we were evil, but we could not help but copulate like Merlin and Morgana, and touch the sky and drink from the universal energies till we were fused into one soul, and touched God.
Jyothi was – to the outside world – the crazy choice for me. Besides my other engagement and my family’s point of view, Jyothi was considered by the majority of my male friends to be an ‘ugly ducking’ (would give me very little popularity points among peers), and yet I could not do without her. It was visceral. I had missed her so much. We had written letters in the meantime. The things she was talking about and the depth of our conversations gave me mental orgasms. Her smell would trigger memories of past lives up to 14 centuries ago.
But then again I was scared, and did not commit more. We again went our own way, and our lives kept missing something – someone.
A few months later I closed with that girlfriend, I had another one who made me immediately pay back the bad karma I had accumulated by cheating on her predecessor. That was over too. Jyothi had gone her own way too, got married, got a kid. She was not happy in that situation. She was trying to get divorced. We found each other again thru the Internet. I wondered what could have been, instead of the current situation. Maybe that kid could have been my kid, I could be with her, had I not chickened out earlier…
It was year 2000, all the computers had survived the ‘millennium bug‘ due to slaves like myself working till late installing updates, and I finally acknowledged what my soul had known for long: that I and Jyothi are soulmate, and we had to be together. By then I was 24, more confident, and able to easily find an IT job in the Netherlands, and that’s when we started living together. And we tried to always stick together, as much as possible, since then.
For a period, while we were living in Italy (and sometimes, but less often, in America) I was traveling for work, and that kept us separate for periods of time. But we talked anyway and kept that thread of Love going at a distance, when necessary (in thoughts and in email/text messages and some phone calls). After all, we had been separated before, in this lifetime, and across lifetimes. It was paying the bills, and I thought it was what I had to do.
When I was back we craved each other, with a passion that has been steadily growing since 1995 and still does.
We are not perfect, we are not saints, we have not figured it all out: we are not always calm and prepared to fix any situation right away, and we do make mistakes! But we try to never lose sight that we are on the same side! When we get confused and do trespass the limits, we always apologize for it afterwards and then work on understanding and healing the underlying wounds that triggered those behaviors. Even in the heat of the moment, when we realize we are losing our center and disconnecting from our hearts, we never escalate. We have compassion for each other. Worst case we walk out for a while until the heat has naturally dispersed, we are centered again, and we resume talking with a different attitude. Sometimes we help each other getting centered again: for example we make love, and that naturally brings us closer, and then we have transformed our rage and frustration into love, and we can start talking again.
We are very much psycho-therapists to each other.
And that’s our secret.
PS – musical suggestion of the day:
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“Damaged People” – Depeche Mode
We’re damaged people
By subtleties that we are not aware of
Playing out forever
These games that we once thought we would be scared of
When you’re in my arms
The world makes sense
There is no pretense
And you’re crying
When you’re by my side
There is no defense
I forget to sense
We’re damaged people
Praying for something
That doesn’t come from somewhere deep inside us
Trusting in the one thing
The one thing that this life has not denied us
When I feel the warmth
Of your very soul
I forget I’m cold
When your lips touch mine
And I lose control
I forget I’m old