Winner: Scott’s Favourite Blogs of 2014 #2
Leaving domestic violence or terror out of the equation, the vast majority of marriages that go from happy to unhappy are all making the same simple mistake. One (or far more likely both), parties have slowly changed their approach to the relationship. Despite the fact that it’s almost always both people, everyone will only tend to notice the change in their partner but almost no one notices it in themselves. This actually compounds the problem because then people earnestly and innocently think the issues are due to the partner and not do to the action both they and their partner are engaged in. The good news in all of this is that you only have to adjust what you’re doing, and it’s not that hard to do.
In the dreamiest state of a relationship all you do is spend hours and hours fantasizing about your life with that person. You living out ideals in your imagination. And because you feel what you think, you’re living it and you get all the joyous experiences that go with thoughts like that. For about the first seven months you do nothing but focus on the person’s strengths and that’s all you’ll talk about to your family and friends. In fact, if they express a different or cautionary view—unless you’ve had some previous experience that leads you to being suspicious—you will generally strongly prefer defending your fantasy partner over listening to cognitively dissonant unfavourable ideas about them.
The timing varies, but seven or eight months in one or both of the people do things that genuinely upset the other person in a much more serious way. And with that single event they will generally quickly unravel their ideal, even though it has much more evidence supporting it than this one instance.
This is all made worse if the person on the receiving end has had enough bad experiences, they can take someone from hero to zero in one jump. And because we tend to date in patterns, that’s a high-low-love-heartbreak perpetual motion machine if we don’t become conscious. No matter what any person actually does, what’s changed is fundamental: their partner now feels cause to think less than ideal stories about their life together. And they make that worse by comparing what’s happening to their imaginationed ideas of what they expected their futures would be. And that thinking is what creates what we call distance.
As lives get busy with children, work, other responsibilities or life circumstances, etc. etc., people begin to think more about those practical things than they do about the basic human needs of their spouse. And if and when they do think of their spouse, it’s usually something to do with how the spouse is impeding our ability to accomplish something useful with the kids or work or some other responsibility.
Unchecked, this thought roll eventually becomes a dark cloud over both people and whenever they get into contact it’s like a thunderstorm starts. There’s so many resentful ideas floating in their consciousness that as soon as they get close to each other these pre-loaded ideas start arcing and sparking.
You can’t expect to have a healthy relationship if you primarily sit around all day thinking of your partner’s shortcomings or failings or past mistakes. There is no way to build a happy life from a lot of negative thinking even if you can argue that your thinking is logical. You can have your logic if it only leads to unhappiness. Life is short. We should enjoy it. And our youthful selves were often wiser than we realize.
I would suggest starting with this —start thinking more charitable thoughts of your partner. If they left you for another person, what would the other person have fallen in love with in your spouse? What would have attracted them? What part of them aren’t you seeing anymore?
In most of the cases I see, two fine people fell in love and intertwined their lives, and then through the subtle forces of modern life, they learned to live as two people; one being a punished and the other being neglected. I have seen that pattern countless times. Those sensations are misleading and they in turn lead to more and more thinking until a tornado of thought forms and sucks the whole relationship into its dark heart. Even the household will get ripped apart. That’s how the nature of this goes. But it can just as easily turn around into something beautiful. Because it can be rebuilt by the same mechanism by which it was destroyed.
The moment you begin thinking appreciative thoughts about your partner is the moment you start feeling better. And in a remarkable number of cases, you can transform the relationship into—not your ideal—but something wonderful and rewarding and yes, challenging too. But creating a better relationship isn’t about your partner changing to suit the way you want to live. It’s up to you to look at them in a loving way and find ways to live together. The great part about that is, both the process and the result are highly enjoyable.
Be in love by being appreciative. Have a wonderful day. And thank you for your time.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.