Wednesday 23 June 2010

On marriage and boundaries

A wise man said, "Relationships are work".  Not necessarily hard work, but they do require some degree of conscious effort if we want to use them as vehicles of personal growth.

But exactly how do they require effort: what triggers the need for conscious effort?

It strikes me, from observing myself in marriage, that I have boundaries.  My boundaries are my ideas: "this is right" (read: I like this), "that is wrong", (read: I don't like that).  Equally, Dirk has his own ideas.

When we both agree on what is 'right' and 'wrong', love and peace flow!  But when we disagree, that's when I can get irritated or withdraw.  That's when I have to start looking at my idea: is it really 'right'?  And, perhaps even more importantly, 'is holding on to that idea really more important to me than finding a compromise with Dirk?'

Some couples never talk about the "swamp land" where they sink into disagreement.  They ignore it, or they fight about it and then pull away, but neither person emerges with any greater understanding or compassion.

I think that where relationships become 'work' is the point at which I choose to make a conscious effort to come out from behind the walls of my ideas to discuss and explore them together: to drop the assumption that 'I'm right'.  For me, it's the moment when I try either to understand Dirk's perspective a little better or try to see how I can expand my belief, so that the argument is not an 'either/or', 'win/lose' scenario.

Now, I will be the first person to admit, that's not easy.  Dirk and I have incredibly different views on just about every subject under the sun: but it was the fascination of the journey of learning to compromise, learning to see the world another way, that brought us together.  And even with that intention explicit between us, we still struggle with it!

Isn't funny that was should like our ideas more than we like finding understanding and common ground with each other?!

Over our three years together, I have developed some wisdom on our little dance.  I now believe that Love (and by this I mean Divine Love) will always find a way to be inclusive.  Divine Love is simple: it is uncomplicated.  It dissolves walls, it does not build walls.  So I try to expand my idea to the point where it could include his idea.

When that doesn't work, I remember the question, "Is it better to be right, or kind?"  In most cases, I opt for kindness.  Thank goodness, so too does Dirk. 

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