It’s a very simple question: do you love your partner? Even if you are in the midst of a fight, do you deep deep down honestly believe that in the future you will once again look at them longingly and lovingly? Because if the answer to that is yes—which it almost always is—then you need to get yourself a better understanding of Time. Because if you do that, then you remove a ton of grief from almost any relationship. If we assume you’re confident that your spouse is a good person and you would rather go through life with them more than anyone else, then you can learn to end most of your arguments almost as quickly as they start. Let’s say for instance your husband made you angry by flirting with a girl at a party the night before. How do you fix that?
Firstly, you meditate on times where you have “misbehaved” in whatever way. In doing so you will realize you weren’t thinking about violating the sanctity of your husband’s trust when you snuck that bottle of wine. You just wanted to get drunk because you felt weak and you needed to lean on something. Selfish maybe, but it’s not an attack on his trust. So now let’s get inside your husband’s head. Let’s say he’s actually putting on weight so he’s feeling unattractive and insecure. So the flirting isn’t really about anything other than building his ego back up. He’s leaning on the girl’s compliments just like you did with the wine.
So let us say that it was true that he was never actually seriously interested in the woman. But because he wasn’t consciously aware that he was living out his reaction to insecurity, the flirting would have all been genuinely invisible to him . That was his reality at the time. So let us say that he loves you, he’s genuinely sorry he upset you, and the entire thing really and truly doesn’t mean anything threatening to your relationship. If this is what you know to be true, then there is no need for further thought other than: are the joys of my husband worth more than the suffering I did one night at a party?”
Hopefully if you married the guy he can at least put the odd dark marble in the jar. You’re going to need that latitude yourself, remember. And that’s assuming you don’t end up in a situation that’s much more challenging for him, like you ending up in a wheelchair. If you believe he would stick with you through that, or if you’re even a little grateful that he puts up with your crap, then you can surely put a party behind you.
But what happens in real life? A lot of the time the spouse will be angry for weeks, months and even years. Is this because the partner flirted? Hardly. If that was the case then everyone would take that long to get over it. It lasts as long as the person chooses to think about it. The pain and irritation are not from the original event as ill-advised as it may have been. The painful emotions are Present Moment biochemical re-creations of the event via Thought. If you tell yourself the same story don’t be surprised that your brain assembles the same biochemistry. A lot of people don’t need mood medication, they need to take more responsibility for their own thinking.
You either believe in your partner or you don’t. If you don’t, then arrange to end it. If you do, then stop blabbing about what he or she did an hour ago, a week ago, a month ago, or a year ago. Because that is your life ticking by. And then the issue isn’t what they did to the relationship then, it’s that you keep doing it by replaying the event Now. Because you’re not at a party Now. You’re wherever you are, and you’re there with your spouse who you love. So why do you need to think about other times? Why can’t you think about the love? Who could stop you?
If you know you actually love your partner deeply, then abandon your old angry narrative and replace it with thoughts about what you admire about your partner. You will instantly get the chemistry that goes with appreciation and that will feel so good it will actually help cement your desire to flick that switch more often in the future.
If you and your partner are enjoying a day or evening, do not crawl back to days gone by to collect cans of paint to pour on yourselves today. Keep your Now clear and open and much love will rush into the space. Abandon the battle. Accept and go quiet. Love is there.
Following a childhood accident should have left him dead, Scott McPherson spent his life meditating on thought, consciousness, reality and the self. Seeing the emotional damage done by ego-based overthinking he began dedicating a part of his life to guiding students toward more peaceful and rewarding lives. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, Canada.