Other Perspectives #90

811 OP Relax and Succeed - Mom what is marriageThis is funny. In my experience thus far, the vast majority of men get left for the same reason every time. Same with the ladies. The guys tend to be emotionally inattentive and they keep calling their decisions the couple’s decisions. The ladies get it wrong when they do what this quote suggests: when they assume that their way of doing things is the correct way and that their spouse’s way is stupid, as opposed to just being another way of approaching something. Both the inattentiveness of the men and the certainty of the women lead to them usually being completely blindsided when their spouses leave them. Speak respectfully of those you love. Because you could flip this quote around to read, Dad, what is marriage? It’s a fancy word for having to put up with a bossy arrogant person who will constantly try to treat you like a child. Doesn’t sound nice, does it? Respect. If you’re going to be in a relationship with someone then make sure your commitment to love them is a verb that you practice daily and not just something you claim out of obligation or habit. Because whether they’re talking to other people or talking to their spouse, healthy people in healthy marriages talk about their partner’s qualities a lot more than the challenges they present.

peace, s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

Modern Relationships

Without meaning to people quite deliberately—albeit slowly—chip away at, scar and eventually undermine their relationships to the point that without intervention they will eventually topple.

602 Relax and Succeed - Always be a little kinderDespite our for better or for worse statements during our wedding services, most of us quietly and subtly shifted our sense of things to the point where 90% of our exchanges are requests for things and only 10% are offers of assistance. Of course, during the dating phase it was almost exactly the opposite—which is why it went so well. At that stage you’re upset when people do things for you because you can’t do things for them fast enough. And then you do what an unconscious mind does—you start to take things you see regularly for granted. As though they will always happen when that is simply not true.

And so a tired husband comes home to a tired wife because of a tired job and a tired two year old and everyone wants. Because we used to live in tribes and we went slower, and we were more connected and a part of each others lives and that helped way more than technology ever could. We not only had help, we also get a sense of value and connection. But now advertisers want us to be iNdividuals, so we cove ourselves off in individual boxes called houses and instead of connecting with people that can help us, instead we connect with celebrities at a distance through, at best Twitter, and at worst just by watching some reality show. People aren’t failing when couples fight like. Life’s strenuous today. We’ve quite literally built an inhumane society.

Far from serving people, most of our inhumanity is designed to support our institutions (governments, bureaucracies, companies etc.), our beliefs (the economy, money, time), and our status (homes, clothing, cars). A huge percentage of Earthlings are essentially slaves to their employers (hard-working people will worry when they’re five minutes late to their job), and they’ll buy cars they can’t afford and clothes that aren’t comfortable to wear all because of what they believe those things will cause other people to think. Wow. When we’re dressing for other people—when we’re buying shoes to impress others—we’re full-on living an ego-based life. We’ll literally suffer to be liked. Ouch.

602 Relax and Succeed - Be an encouragerSo everyone’s racing on this crazy sideways roundabout treadmill and people they don’t even have time to find a way off. And the centrifugal force of its spinning nature creates impacts between people that aren’t really between the people, they’re generated by the tiredness and stresses created by the trajectories generated by the spinning. In the middle of it is some couple with a screaming two year old and there’s no getting around the fact that that is just really really hard; that we’re at a time in history when our culture and society have made that much harder than it needs to be. Because every parent knows that someone else being there means that—even if it’s just for a few minutes—they can get little things done that make a huge difference. It’s why Japan’s government invests in those group play centers in their neighbourhoods, or why Indian or Chinese families often have several generations in one house. It makes people closer and it makes everyone’s life better when we all share the load.

A marriage can die a death of a thousand small cuts. Don’t start to develop resentments. Don’t come home assuming your partner has extra energy with which to help you past your challenges. You’re better to assume they could benefit from your help because for everyone that’s basically always true. And if you both think that way you’ll be in a giving mood more often. And two people in a state of giving and appreciation have way more fun and use way less energy than two people taking and wanting.

Save your marriage with a thousand tiny strokes. Little moments of physicality, putting your phone down when you talk to them, caring about what they care about, and helping.

Use your marriage to give yourself a great life. It happens when two people enact simple acts of kindness and then repeat that over decades. It really works.

peace. s

Embracing Wisdom

My husband and are always fighting about the kids. He says I never listen to him on parenting but why should I when the things he says are ridiculous. If it were up to him even our boys would be pregnant and all three of the kids would have flunked out and be in jail. How can I get him to understand that I’m not going to listen to stupid ideas but I would really appreciate it if he would come up with some good ones because I’m really tired of doing all of this myself.

signed,
Married Single Mother

Dear Married,

Wow. You are busy. I could see why you would be wanting a slave. And that’s of course what your husband would be if he was raising his kids according to only your personal guidelines, thereby ignoring the value of his own wisdom and experience. Look, I’m sorry to be blunt but I had to rewrite your question just to tame it down for public consumption. Simply put: talking about your husband in those terms is unkind, unreasonable, unloving and most certainly unhealthy for your marriage.

421 Relax and Succeed - Hearing is simply sound wavesI’m sure you’re an able and dedicated parent and that you live your life always intending to do the best you can. But it is arrogant to assume you have a personal monopoly on all of the parenting skills. I guarantee that if I ask the kids they’re more likely to list their father as a guide more than you. Because just in the provocatively aggressive way you phrased your question I’m able to tell that you’re extremely likely to come across to them as a tyrant, whereas he would then be seen as a wise man deserving of pity. He may not be tough but he’s got good lessons on how to stay out of trouble.

Let’s talk about listening since that’s what your husband asked you to do more of. Listening is not just hearing someone and then comparing the shape of their thoughts to the shape of your thoughts and then telling them yes if the shapes are the same or no if they are different. You’re not here to judge anyone (yourself included). As I often point out to couples arguing over parenting, the person each of you is arguing with is the one person you chose to have children with out of a possible 3.5 billion other candidates. Surely that person’s as trustworthy as a $25 a night babysitter. You did choose to attach yourselves to each other for life. So maybe if you had that much confidence you could also believe that they might know a thing or two about how to deal with other human beings they deeply care about.

So you’re both worth listening to. And real listening is when you take another person’s idea seriously. You listen for what the objectives are, the potential, the challenges and the rewards and then you weigh that and decide whether or not to act based on your results, not on an initial rejection simply because the idea doesn’t line up with your preconceived notions of how things “should” be. Your opinion should be a flexible thing based on experience. So you can’t reject things because they don’t align with your current opinion, otherwise you would never have any experiences with the potential to change that opinion. If you don’t do that you’re essentially saying that you’ve prevented yourself from growing through experience.

421 Relax and Succeed - Where the ego singsDon’t just hear the words and then spew back your pre-recorded answer. Actually engage with what they’re saying. Take it seriously. Do thought experiments with it. Truly wonder if it could work. And if you’re unsure, feel free to test it. But you can’t say you respect someone if you won’t even try something that they are strongly recommending as being good parenting. Surely you both know that you feel the same way about your kids. They’re like extensions of yourselves. No parent has a monopoly on the feelings of love or protectiveness that accompanies having children. Both care deeply, and all advice comes from that place, no matter how much it might clash with your current beliefs.

Your spouse should be the (or one of the) most respected advisers in your life. And because you’re married, you will already align on most things. But the stronger your disagreement the greater the difference of opinion. So those are the cases in which both parties should be most prudent. Because if there’s enough to worry about that you’re going to actually get angry, then the price is high enough that it’s worth it to tread carefully and ensure we’re making the wisest decisions.

Our partner’s lives are deeply intertwined with our own. It therefore behooves us to take their thoughts into serious account. And to do that we really must learn to quiet our own judgmental inner voice and instead just focus on carefully listening to the wisdom that is being so lovingly offered to us.

Stop busying your mind thinking of replies or opinions when people are still talking. Just listen instead. Listen as an activity unto itself. Do this and you’ll be surprised at how much you’ve been missing, and how helpful it will be now that you can hear it.

Listen carefully. Enjoy your days.

peace. s