Every relationship starts off with a glow of magnificence. That’s because both parties start off seeing each other as magnificent. The only question is, how long can you make that honeymoon phase last? Two days? Two weeks? Two months? Two years? And most importantly, once you are out of that state of mind, how quickly and how often can you return to that state of mind?
Imagine people as shapes. The have soft parts and hard parts, and curvy parts and angular parts, and rounded parts and sharp parts. Every shape is unique, but they’re all made of the same basic kinds of components. Think of these as their personality traits. Those traits represent one half of the equation. The world then provides the context for those traits to play out. So in some contexts, someone’s sharpness can work against them, and in other contexts it can be just the right reaction. If you can learn to consciously choose your state of mind you will be able to adapt the orientation of your traits to best-suit the circumstances. You still won’t be good at everything. But you’ll maximize how much you can be good at.
Now you not only have a you in your consciousness, you also have a relationship identity. You and your spouse will each have independent relationship identities, but they will generally have a lot in common. This represents your view of the personality of your relationship. It’s how you are together. Is one the straight man while the other one gets the punchlines? Do you argue a lot? Does the same person always surrender in arguments? Is one person always correcting the other? Are you very supportive and caring? What is your relationship’s identity? What is its average temperature? And who do you blame for what’s missing or wrong?
If either partner is focused on disappointments—on what’s wrong or what’s missing—then the tone of the relationship will drop and deteriorate. If either partner is focused on appreciating new ideas or appreciating your existing good fortune, then the tone of the relationship will rise and warm. Because we are all ultimately made of the same base energy that the entire universe is made of, we are all ultimately One. The bond is generated by love and love is not judgmental. Love is blind. True love is unconditional. True love accepts all. Two people who can regularly maintain that level of mindfulness are destined to have the very best lives together. This in comparison to two people focused on each other’s weaknesses or mistakes. They are doomed.
People don’t really change much. As you grow up you either get to be that cool grandparent that everyone wishes was their grandparent, or you can be that sad, victimized grandparent that seems tiny and ineffectual. What idea you have of yourselves and each other is up to you. You choose the impression your partner makes on you and you can absolutely succeed at changing your view to something more charitable, reasonable and helpful.
You’re not perfect. Neither is your partner. But the more perfection you can see in their imperfections the happier you will be. Because that happiness is not derived from your partner being so much stronger, it’s because your view of them is so much so.
Choose your words and your timing to reflect back a positive self-image to your partner. You’ll always both benefit if one of you feels better, so make the selection of your state of mind is a conscious choice in your life. Do that and both of your lives will be filled with a deep and abiding love.
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.