Winner: Scott’s Favourite Questions of 2014 #1
I love my husband. I really do. And I 100% believe he loves me. But 90% of our exchanges are criticizing each other and complaining. Hardly any of our contact is enjoyable anymore and a lot of it is pretty negative. We can tell that we’re going to start hating each other and we already feel like our marriage/lives went the wrong directions. We’re lost but what do we do?
Often times, people will struggle with something I write, or say, because they assume that what I’m talking about is loftier and more complicated than the actual truth. But the thing I’m talking about, little kids can do. In fact, making our lives better often doesn’t require adding anything to ourselves.
To the contrary, we are often better to subtract ourselves from our sense of things, until all that we’re left with is clarity. When our ego’s out of the way and we can see things clearly, having positive relations with others is much, much easier.
We simply have to accept one idea: that reality is not out there, but instead that it is in here. We don’t experience the world. We experience our thoughts about the world. But unless you practice watching for it, for most people it’s subconscious. Their focus is not on watching their ego, it’s on being their ego.
Most people have no awareness of themselves as the ‘thinker’ of their reality. Their life is a stream of thoughts, but they never at any point wonder who’s thinking them. That’s the advantage my accident gave me. It made me wonder about thoughts and who was thinking them. I was an accidental Buddhist by five.
Reality isn’t what’s ‘happening.’ Reality is an assessment made through thinking. And we feel what we think. So most couples think uncharitable thoughts about one another and so they get the feelings that go with the thoughts. The problem is when they assign the blame for those feelings on the person they are thinking about.
Blame is very rarely useful. More importantly, we are made healthier by taking responsibility for our own emotional reactions. Blaming others gets us nowhere fast. No one is reaching inside our heads and squeezing our brain to pump out the chemicals they want. Unless we’re children, it’s not other people’s fault that we’re thinking in the unproductive ways that we are.
Our experiences are far more about our invisible choices than anything else. And even though that fact is the secret to our eternal freedom, few will accept it because it seems like a huge responsibility rather than what it really is: a huge opportunity.
Most couples don’t get along simply because they make one simple choice: they focus their consciousness on their judgmental thoughts about the behaviour of their partner (past, present or even future), rather than focusing it on how awesome any human being is, let alone the one in billions they chose to marry.
At the same time, if the partner really deserves all of those complaints, and they are that bad, then leave them. But it’s worth thinking carefully about that. Because we also have to start asking ourselves questions about how appealing we are.
The divorce rate for second marriages is higher than for first ones, so clearly a lot of people didn’t feel they traded up. Yes, if was just innocently the wrong match from the outset, then it’s healthy for both parties if it ends. But if people are just suffering over opinions and old events, then those are all thought-based, silly reasons to end an otherwise good marriage and/or breakup a family.
You wrote that you genuinely love your spouse and you believe he genuinely loves you. Can you see that the only thing that’s standing in your way is a veil of thought? You have stopped paying attention to (aka focusing your consciousness on), the qualities of the person in front you. If there really were good reasons you got married, most of those reasons will still be true.
As time passes, we just start quietly taking those qualities for granted, which is another way of saying that we just don’t stop to think about the value in those qualities anymore. We assume they’ll be there so they’re invisible —until a person starts dating again. And then we can quickly realize all kinds of qualities that our former partner had that we’d become blind to.
The nice thing is, people naturally love each other. It is only our personal thoughts that build the narratives that create the sense of separation people feel from others. So even if we are better not being married to someone, there is no reason to hate them or reduce their value. An unaligned match isn’t either partner’s fault.
If there is a basis for real alignment, then a better marriage is merely a matter of focusing on removing ego. Egos are thought based entities. As such, they are forever intersecting with other egos. There’s no peace in that. Better that we quiet our minds and notice the incredible, stunning beauty of every single aspect of this magnificent universe —our partners included.
It’s easier than you think. Keep a quiet mind. Smile. Hug. Do fun things. Notice the best in each other, or set each other free. Know that you’re both good people. Trust yourself, and the rest will happen naturally.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.