Relationships – co-existence or BATTLEFIELD?
What is it that draws us into a partnership? Maybe the hope that the joy of the first
days, weeks and months is to remain with us throughout our living together? Or our
desire to have children, our fear of loneliness, judgments, exclusion from the society
…? Our yearning for love, companionship, support, happiness, cooperation,
community, the desire of a fusion with another …? Merely a passion or a habit which
has brought us into the wedlock?
Each of us has one’s own story, one’s reasons, hopes, fears, disappointments and pains. Regardless of the reasons which brought us to a decision, we have therewith chosen a responsibility which includes others, too.
A story circulating in e-mail landed also into my inbox. Its message is strong and instructive. Read it, if you haven’t; if you have, here is a chance to read it again.
“When I arrived home in the evening, my wife was preparing supper, I held her hand and said I had something to tell her. I could already see the pain in her eyes.
Suddenly I didn’t know how to open my mouth. But I had to tell her what had been eating at me for quite a stretch of time. I want a divorce, I told her. I said it very calmly. I had the impression that my words didn’t upset her, instead she gently asked me, “Why?”
I didn’t answer her question, which made her angry. She threw away the salty sticks she was eating, and screamed at me, “You are not a real man!”. That night we didn’t speak. She cried all night. I knew that she wanted to know what went wrong in our marriage. I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; she had simply lost my heart which was now beating for Jane. I no longer loved her. I only stayed with her out of duty.
With a deep feeling of guilt I prepared the divorce agreement, stating she could have our house, the car and 30% of my company’s share. When I offered it to her, she didn’t even read it, but instantly tore it to pieces. In that moment, a woman who had spent ten years of her life with me suddenly turned into a complete stranger. I felt sorry for her, sorry that she had wasted so much time, money and energy on me. But I couldn’t take back what I said, what I felt, and why; I loved Jana so much. Finally,
she started crying in front of me, something that was to be expected. For me, her tears were actually a relief. The idea of a divorce that had been bugging me for weeks was not finally said out loud.
The following evening I returned from work very late, and I found her writing something at her desk. We hardly said a word, I went straight to bed and instantly fell asleep; I was very tired after a whole day I spent with Jane. When I woke up in the middle of the night, she was still there at the table, writing something. I did not worry, I turned away and fell asleep.
In the morning she presented to me her divorce conditions: she wanted nothing from me, but she needed a month before we would file for divorce and inform other people about it. She wanted us to behave as if nothing was wrong during that month, to live our lives as normal. Her reason was simple: our son had plenty of exams during that month and she didn’t want our divorce to upset him. That was acceptable to me.
And yet she wanted one more thing, she asked me to remember how I carried her from the entrance door to our bedroom on the wedding night. Now she wanted me to carry her from our bedroom to the entrance door each morning during that month. I thought she had gone mad. To make the last month of our life together tolerable I granted her this rather unusual request.
I told Jane about my wife’s conditions for divorce. She laughed loudly and said they were absurd. No matter what her hidden agenda was, she would eventually have to resign herself to the divorce, she said scornfully.
My wife and I had no bodily contact since I cheated on her with Jane. And so, as I carried her to the entrance on the first day, we both felt pretty awkward. Our son followed us, “Daddy carries Mummy in his arms”, he naughtily commented. His words made me feel pain inside. From the bedroom into the living room, then to the entrance door, I walked more than ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes and silently said, “Don’t tell our son about the divorce as yet.” I nodded, I felt somewhat uneasy. At the door, I put her down. She took a bus and I drove to work –
The following day this new routine was easier. She hugged me around the neck and leant against my chest. I could smell the scent of her skin and the perfume on her shirt. I realized I hadn’t really looked at my wife in a long time. She was no longer young. She had tiny wrinkles on her face and several strands of grey hair. Our marriage had left visible traces on her. For a minute it hit me what I had done to her, but I quickly pushed those thoughts away.
On the fourth day, as I lifted her I was taken over by the feeling of our former intimacy again. This is the woman who had given me ten years of her life. On the fifth and sixth day I realized that my feeling of intimacy got only stronger. I didn’t tell Jane about any of this. Each day it became easier to carry her to the door, even easier than facing the fact that the month was coming to its end. “Maybe this daily exercise made me stronger”, I was trying to convince myself.
One morning she was choosing what to wear. She had tried on a number of clothes, but couldn’t find the right one. She sighed as all her clothes became too large for her.
Suddenly I realized she had lost a lot of weight and that was probably the reason that I could carry her so easily to the door.
Suddenly it hit me … so much pain and bitterness was buried in her heart.
Subconsciously, I reached out my hand and touched her head.
In that moment our son entered the room and said: “Daddy, it is time for you to carry Mummy to the door.” The fact that I carried her there each day had become a integral part of his life by now. My wife beckoned to him to come closer and then she held him close with a tender motherly gesture … I had to turn away, my eyes filled with tears and I was overcome by fear that I would change my mind at the very last minute … I quickly lifted my wife onto my hands and carried her to the entrance door. Her hands were resting against my neck, tenderly and in a most natural way. I firmly held her body, just as on our wedding day.
And yet her weight loss saddened me deeply. The last day, as I carried her to the door, I could hardly move my legs. Our son had already left for school. I held her closely and told her I was sorry that I hadn’t noticed before how little attention I had paid to the intimacy of our living together. I drove to the office, quickly jumped out of the car without locking it. I was afraid I would change my mind at the very last minute … I stepped into the office and said to Jane, “I am sorry, but I no longer want a divorce.”
She looked at me strangely and touched my forehead. “Do you have a fever?”, she asked. I removed her hand from my forehead. “I am sorry, Jane,” I said, “I won’t be getting a divorce. My marriage life was probably boring because I couldn’t appreciate the small things in our relationship, not because we didn’t love each other any longer. I realized, ever since I first carried her into our home on our wedding day, that I want to carry her until death do us part.” Jane, as if she had suddenly awakened, slapped
me hard and then loudly slammed the door, I could hear her burst into tears on the other side of the door. I went out and drove away. At the florist, I ordered a bouquet for my wife. The shop assistant asked me if she should writing anything on the visiting card. I smiled and told her she should write: “I will carry you every day until death do us part.”
That day I came home with a flower bouquet and a smile on my face, I ran upstairs and found my wife in the bed – dead. My wife was fighting a battle with cancer, but I had been so focused on Jane for months that I had never even noticed it. She knew she would die soon and that was the reason she wanted to protect me from our son reacting badly should he find out about our divorce. Her gift to me was that in the eyes of our son I had remained a loving father to the end …
The small things in our lives are what truly matters in any relationship. It’s not the mansions, the car, the property or the money in the bank. All these things can certainly create conditions for happiness, but they can never make us truly happy.
So, find the time to be your partner’s friend, to share the small joys which create true intimacy. Only then will you enjoy a truly happy marriage!
And the story doesn’t end here. What follows is a view, a reflection on life,
partnership. In principle, we are allowed everything, we have free will and can do what we want. The consequences are ours and with them also the responsibility. It has always been and will always be. People on Earth suffer because of ignorance, selfishness, disrespect for ourselves and others.
It is interesting how some people talk about love, about loving someone and after ten or twenty years realizing they no longer do. If you loved someone twenty years ago, and now you hate them, how is that possible? Is true love so changeable or was it love at all, that true love, so real and warm?
Mostly we are brought together by a feeling of harmony, complementarity and a projection of characteristics that we connect to our ideals. In our partner, we at first see only their best qualities, their goodness, and we are not bothered by the characteristics and virtues that they do not possess, or at least not to the extent we expect them to. At the beginning of a relationship our level of tolerance is very high, we are not disturbed by anything, we accept even their bad or vicious habits. The energies are flowing beautifully and there is no struggle for supremacy. We look at our partner through rose-tinted glasses of our self-created illusions. As our life together proceeds and our acquaintance deepens, we slowly begin to notice also the less pleasant characteristics. The level of our tolerance decreases.
Not only our partner, we, too, show our true nature and those parts of our personality that we have successfully disguised and covered up. If in spite of this we feel love and true friendship for our partner, then we can overcome such difficulties. Through adjustment and harmonization we can be successful on our common path. But it can happen that it all gets too bad and the battles between the two get so hard that we usually choose to give up and move away. Love, understanding, support – all positive feelings change into hate, opposition and alienation.
All too often we make our love conditional, and with it also our partnership. For as long as our partner belongs to us completely, adapts, behaves, talks and dresses as we want them to, we love them, or else he no longer interests us. Expecting our partner to fulfill only our desires is not love. We often say that we love, but under our conditions. If you do everything as I tell you to, and for as long as you belong to me, I love you, but as soon as you start behaving differently, I no longer love you but hate you. For as long as my needs are fulfilled, I love you, but when they no longer are, you are superfluous to me. Love between two people should not be based on the
condition that lunch is on the table or the room in order, nor should it be based on sexual satisfaction or material abundance … that kind of a relationship is an expression of dependence. Dependence on another is not love, nor is it a path of partnership. When such a conditioned and dependent love turns away from us, we are submerged by jealousy because our emotional balance breaks down. Pain, hate, violence, unrest and malice emerge … J. Krishnamurti asks: “Don’t you know what it really means to love somebody – to love without hatred, without jealousy, without anger, without trying to interfere with what our beloved does or thinks, without
judging, without comparing – do you know what it means? If love is there, is there comparison? When you love somebody with your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole body, your whole being, is there comparison? When you relax completely, there is no other.”
Precisely on the account of ignorance and a lack of true love can experiences in love relationships be truly painful, often demanding great efforts. On the other hand, family relations teach us the most. Until we do not complete our “task”, they follow us wherever we go. Thus, it is better to deal with them instead of running away. In the family, we ourselves create and help to maintain harmony, which also depends on our thoughts and feelings. We should not emphasize bad qualities. It is best to shower them with our own goodness, love, understanding, companionship, and slowly they will melt and dissolve like ice-cream in the sun. We will realize that
everything that we see in our partner, even though in small doses, lies hidden in our own depths. Our task throughout life is also to change our own human nature, to control it and gradually become a perfect human being, rising up to bliss.
The traditional roles of a man and a woman have become almost extinct and mixed up in the modern society. Within a family, the man should provide for the material abundance and the woman for the spiritual one. The modern way of living has given women jobs, seemingly offering them independence but in fact making them even greater slaves of the system. There is nothing wrong with having a job if other tasks are also equally divided. And yet women are often forced to play both roles, female and male. Most of the time, men still expect women to take care of the children, the household and them, in addition to having a job. There are double standards for men and women. Despite their apparent freedom, women are still largely unprotected. In most cases, they are left to themselves and their own resourcefulness.
On the other hand, men suffer, too. Women are no longer merely women; they have started taking on the role of a man. They take advantage of their charms to gain dominion and power over men. They use their charms to gain power and to exploit, thereby confirming to their ego that they are the most beautiful, the best and the most capable … forgetting about the consequences that will sooner or later befall them.
Men love women who give them a feeling that they are strong and needed. They hope to find power and a confirmation of their power through women. At a certain level of their development, a man needs a woman just as a woman needs a man. The relationship between them should not turn into a fight for supremacy, their relationship should originate and be founded on understanding, acknowledgement and love.
It is the duty of a man to take care of his woman. It is the duty of a woman to stand by her man. As a couple, they are obliged to take care of each other and their children. Only when they are able do that are they free and able to carry out their duties. Most people forget what their duties are and take care only of themselves. Men and women differ only physically, by appearance. In reality, we are souls, expressing ourselves and being born through different forms. One time we are born as a man, another time as a woman. Partners are not meant for us only for a lifetime. We have lived together many different lifetimes and travelled a long path.
Relationships are not meant for sampling. We should enter a relationship only when we know perfectly well what we expect from our partner and from ourselves, what our partner is capable of offering us and what we can offer him. A relationship between two people is very often based on the stronger qualities of the other person. Only when we are able to live on our own, independently from anyone, dependent on our own happiness, love and peace, are we able to share a healthy relationship with another person. A partnership is cooperation and not exploitation. It is an expansion
and consolidation of understanding, peace, friendship and passing on of knowledge and wisdom to the children. A partnership is love between two soul-mates walking through life as one. Or as Sri Aurobindo wrote: “If the soul could dominate and reign over other elements of human love – mental, emotional, bodily – and magically transform them, love could truly function as a reflection or preparation of the real thing on Earth, an all-encompassing union of the soul and its instruments in the lives of two people.”