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“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
We need to treat each other with compassion and empathy. We can probably all see the wisdom in this. The problem arises when we realize that we aren’t seeing and feeling what they are seeing and feeling. Sometimes we can’t even begin to understand where there hurt is coming from. It isn’t that big of a deal in our mind.
In a book I just found, How To Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Patricia Love and Steven Stosny I think I’ve found some answers. When I saw it I thought maybe we have something here. Talking doesn’t always get us what we want. We want change,not rehashing over and over who was wrong, or more wrong, How do we actually fix things? Even if they aren’t completely fixed can we move towards better?
The authors say yes we can move toward better without involving our partner at all. We can do this because we react to each other’s behavior, mood, body language, tone of voice, etc. We’ve all walked into a room or house in a good mood and been infected by someone else’s foul mood, and it seems we couldn’t help ourselves be not affected by it. This does put the partner in the good mood at a disadvantage. It seems negativity trumps in the mood department.
The authors tell us why we have problems communicating is because men and women don’t feel the same things. Men feel shame, and women feel fear. Women have a hard time understanding men’s shame and men have a hard time understanding women’s fear. When it comes to compassion and empathy we will never one hundred percent get the other persons point of view.
In the beginning of our relationships we were like a violin and a cello playing in harmony. The violin wasn’t trying to be the cello and the cello didn’t think the violin needed to be just like them. A long the way we lose some of that harmony and we don’t appreciate the differences which attracted us in the first place. We don’t want a mini me in our relationships. Sometimes we think we can only have harmony if we are the same. We can only have harmony if we play together in harmony.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
One of the things this book tells us is when women leave the relationship they’ve often thought long and hard how they can make it work out there alone. Men on the other hand the book says often fall in love with their wives again as she walks out the door. All of a sudden they now want to offer all she wanted, but they didn’t offer it when she was still in the relationship willing to work on it.
The advice the book gives is for each of us to be true to our core values and then to invoke the four core value inspirations.
Improve – when we inspire ourselves to improve we don’t necessarily have to fix the problem just find a way to make it a little better to feel better our self.
Appreciate – find something about our partner we value and focus on that instead of the problem. We increase the value of our own life when we appreciate our partner in any way.
Connect – genuinely care about our partner’s emotional state. To connect we need to at least on some level intuitively understand his shame or her fear. It also requires an understanding that our emotional well being is tied together. If he feels good – you feel good. If she feels bad – you feel bad.
Protect – helping him relieve his dread of failure as a provider, lover, protector, and father and helping her reliever her fear of isolation, deprivation and harm.
Oprah said one of her biggest fears was ending up a bag lady. It is probably one of our biggest fears also. The book says women fear being a bag lady because they would feel vulnerable, unsafe, and have no security. Men on the other hand feel shame because they ended up on the street.
Looking at things this way gives me a new perspective on why we have such a disconnect sometimes. Why we can’t see why something is such a big thing. We can’t see it because that isn’t what is a big thing to us.
There are so many books and so many therapists and the internet is filled with people and their psycho babble. This book explains things to me that makes sense. Gives me actions I can take that don’t involve the other person. I know the only person I can control is me. One of the reasons I think therapy doesn’t work a lot of the time is we are waiting for someone else to get fixed and they are waiting for us to get fixed. It’s easier to see our partner’s offences than our own. I’m working on owning my offences.
When we understand that our emotional well being is important to us. That our relationship is more important than anything we resent and worthy of appreciation, time, energy and sacrifice. We have something to work on. Not something for the other person to work on.
I just read something that jumped out at me.
It’s nice to have romantic weekends, intimate dinners and great vacations. If they are not accompanied by a loving routine, they are more likely to have a negative effect, in the physical exhaustion and psychological letdown of getting back to your humdrum routine. To nurture love over a lifetime we have to nurture small moments of connection day by day.
We can be the change we want to see in our relationship. We can find some little thing to make it better. We can appreciate our partners good attributes. We can find some common point of connection. We can find a way to help him feel less shame and her feel less fear.
“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.”
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