No one told me that my marriage would be at moments a hell. Not even my parents who are for years ‘happy’ married. No one prepared me for the feelings of sorrow, anger, frustrations and hate. But I could have known that I did someway warn myself: At the invitation card for our wedding we put the picture of a beautiful, lovely and quiet garden. But to enter that place of intimacy you had to go through flames … The gate was a consuming fire …
After seven years of struggling I have finally learned some lessons. And, happily, I am changing! I am really changing! I am a changing man. It is possible!
Today I am far more aware that my mind is filled with fairy tales and social narratives about how I have to behave (as a married man). And I am not the only one who is feeling miserable about these misleading stories.
Behavioural scientist Paul Dolan shows how this hidden thoughts are dictating our lives. Newspaper The Guardian summarizes his thoughts via the headline ‘The money, job, marriage myth: are you happy yet?’. Here you can find it: Click here
We are scripted how we have to behave
I sympathise with Paul Dolan. It is indeed all mental imagination about how we see ‘categories’ like man, woman, child, tree, animal and for instance a snow flock. These are conditioning containers loaded with associations and prescriptions. And from an early age we are scripted how we have to behave. And mostly we are unaware how these detailed thoughts form together a closely knitted spiderweb. A protocol which is binding us and limiting us in our freedom to reach our true potential and power. It tries to regulate our lives with regard to how we have to eat, sleep, work and recreate. Including how we are expected to have intercourse and with whom.
Of course it prevents us from unhealthy risks or dangerous actions, but it makes our lives also boring and unchallenging. And in essence it’s all dictated by our Ego. Because ‘we’ desire to live secure and comfortable. In a fairy tale with a ‘happy end’ and with clear roles for each one of us.
To reach clarity we judge permanently whether we are accepting or rejecting what we are watching. And via unspoken and obscure words we paint the feelings which our minds are willingly producing for us, just in a blink of our eyes.
We are not taking notice about how our ‘automatic pilot’ is functioning inside. And minutes later we are wondering why we are feeling like we are feeling.
We simply are most of the time not really ‘present’ in the situation. Or just forgetting how we were misleaded in our perceptions of reality. And we tumble again in the dark abyss of our intense and ‘primitive’ emotions.
Producing pleasant interpretations
So many times our minds try to simplificate reality by presenting us simple ”choices” which we can answer with a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Even our sympathy or antipathy is mostly black or white. It is not based at a thoroughly evaluation of the situation or the person who we are meeting. We just assume and we perceive afterwards – when we are not clinging to our decided positions – that our judgements were not at all correct. Because we were not seeing all aspects of the other and not knowing the total of events which he or she went through.
But even when we are aware there lingers still the fairy tale about the moment when we meet the one and only person who is designed for our needs. We believe that there is love at first sight, that our partners should always satisfy us and that – by the way – there should be great, seducing sex. Also we assume that we will stay together for the rest of our lives, while we don’t have the possibility to know what future will brings us. Because we are still expecting that we will live ‘long and happy afterwards’.
Did I ever hear before my marriage about the struggles and storms which I would meet? No one told me. No one warned me when I was walking the road towards my wedding day. Also no one did give me the promise that this would be possible the path whereby I would understand myself far better than anytime before. Also that it would create the perspective and chance to get rid of my dominant Ego.
Love flourish at a soil of impossibilities and imperfections
So I observed through trials that love flourish at a soil of impossibilities and imperfections.
When my wife entered my life like a whirlwind she swept away the chess pieces which I had carefully placed at the board of my mind. It were the pieces of an exaggerated positive self image which was not knowing its limitations. And yes, I was purposely blind for the flaws of myself.
After our dating period I experienced feelings and thoughts which I never had before. And later on I tried to ease my discomfort about our repeated quarrelings by blaming my wife for our arguments and by trying to call her to account. I really believed that she was always the first who started our battles and that I was just reacting and trying to limit her intense verbal expressions. I tried with all my might to convince her about her wrongdoings.
I walked with open eyes in self-justifications and I could not believe that I was the one who was causing problems.
Ouch, my Ego is such a stubborn and stupid ‘donkey’. Not listening and unmighty to act wise at all. For many times I stubbed my foot against the same stone. Not knowing how to prevent it. And not realising that I could jump towards another direction.
Days to recover from angry disputes
How I could dig my heels in my feelings of anger. I needed days to recover from the bitter disputes. Because I was attaching to my sour memories about what had happened. In my mind I saved a vivid collection of very visual views of what my wife had done.
And I was not interested in my own destructive behaviour patterns, because I tried at all costs to protect and preserve myself.
But finally – after countless moments of hell – I was learning that it is possible to make other choices. Even in the hottest argument there is a possibility to change the course of the fight.
I detected that I can make another evaluation of the situation, even when my mind is creating angry thoughts and trying to convince me to throw these as hurting hurricanes towards my wife.
When my Ego is feeling insecure or wounded
I laid bare that my mind is not anymore an useful tool when my Ego is feeling insecure or wounded. And when I am confused or overloaded with intense feelings and thoughts. My Ego is than very egoistic 🙂
Not helping me to de-escalate or to calm down. Instead it is stoking the fire and freezing me in an immobile position by sending me judging thoughts and ice cold condemnations.
My Ego is not shaped to behave well when it is confronted with a confusing complexity or with the will of another human. It is than becoming as heavy as a statue of stone. A pressing and blocking obstacle. Not relativizing any detail or choosing to change one’s tune. Instead it is exaggerating and overstating. Blowing small things out of proportion. Creating big drama. And isolating me by showing me an absurd picture of the situation which is totally out of context and out of my control.
So what have I learned?
That I have to accept that the situation is developing otherwise than I am liking. And that the only one who I can try to calm down is myself. And even that is sometimes very difficult.
In those crises I need the awareness that I have to reset my mind. Because it is dysfunctioning. Even when I am pretending that I am the one who is keeping his head cool and even when I am fleeing like a refugee to my rationality. But also my logic is than failing like a fake friend.
I am not my Mind
The changing moment was that a divorce seemed inevitable. I felt so much sorrow and distress about the nearer coming definite separation of my wife. And I realised deep inside that I don’t desire to miss her. Because I love her like a fire which is so intense that it is also burning my Ego to ashes. I really want to lay my life down for my wife and my kids.
Also I uncovered the reality that I am not my mind. Somewhere there is an awareness inside me which is coming from a deeper place. This place is not connected with my Ego. And no one can claim it for his own benefits. This spot of rest and peace is always just a breath away from myself. It is cherishing and pampering my bones and blood. It is such a strong loving force that I can feel it wrapping itself around my existence, my body and around all the creatures of this world. It is inside and outside me. It is everywhere.
That place of Love is the airless eye within a storm. The ultime solid ground under my feet. It is the foundation of my spirit. It can’t be prisoned. It is Freedom itself. It is the Wind which is blowing through all times, places and positions of people.
Aha, my mind is making problems again
When I am in pain or when I am (dis)stressed, it is very difficult to reach that place. But it is helping me that I have created in the meantime a distance between my mind and ‘me’ (which is also a collection of the mental images created by my mind).
It is helping, because I can now think when my Ego is perceiving a ‘crisis’: ‘Aha, my mind is making problems again’ (liking to create drama!).
And to be in the place of Love is also the timeless place where there is an abundance of forgiveness ever for everyone. For myself, my wife and every other one living at this planet. It is the place where no records are hold about the wrongdoings of whoever. It is a place of acceptance. I am there invited to forget the ‘shocking’ things which my mind was stirring up or which were troubling my Ego.
And thanks to the Love deep wired inside my being I can resettle my mind within moments. Where I first needed some days to refind rest and peace I can now accept the feelings of anger. Observe them, let them be and let them go.
My wife is not my property
I guess that what changed me also is the wisdom that I am only ‘responsible’ for my own behaviour and not for that of others. I am not the pedant or schoolmaster who is correcting or teaching another. And happily I say nowadays far more easy sorry than before 🙂
Also there is the deeper and helping knowledge that my wife is not my property. She is an autonomous creature, a grown up like me. She is not a child. I don’t owe anyone. I even don’t owe my body. These are entrusted to me to take care and to nourish. So that they will become mature. That they will blossom and bear many fruits.
And I assess also today that the centuries-old (christian?) thought that the man is ‘the head’ (supervisor) of his wife is a big, enchanting lie. Because it is devaluating every woman and it is subjecting (the mind of) a woman like an object to the will of a mistakes making man.
Love needs distance
Finally, I have experienced that friendship and love need distance. It is good to be separated from each other for a while. To have a pause. Distance makes it possible to enjoy a closer approach and again the befriending of each other. Like it was just the first moment. Or a new possibility to start again. To look with other eyes. To become aware of unseen realities. Even when the other is looking so familiar.
It is psychotherapist Esther Perel who writes in her book ‘Mating in Captivity, unlocking erotic intelligence’ about the importance of distance between sex partners. She is also discussing these topics via the TED talks. To hear more about these themes: Click here
A level which I can’t oversee
Deeper than deep there is the connection between myself and my spouse at a level that I can’t oversee or gauge.
My wife – who did not anymore dare to expect that I would change – said something that made me very happy. She spoke some days ago in my ears the for me immortal sounding words:
‘Finally, you climbed down your throne !’