Both Fight. Both Suffer. Both Make Up?

Relationships and marriages are such an incessant source of inspiration for humour and all the jokes constantly being forwarded and laughed upon. Funnily, no one laughs so much in a real marriage.  There is definitely some honesty in those jokes but the rest is of course ingenuous spicing up of the matter.

Cutting the long story short, people get into relationships and even marriages for all the right reasons. Soon after, several wrongs start cropping up which is predictable, normal and usual. The wrongs are not about the people, they haven’t changed nor have their values. What’s changed are expectations. For the major part, all conflicts are a result of unmet expectations. And I’ll be quick to surmise that we all have expectations from our partner, companion, lover or spouse by whatever name and status they go. And it’s ALRIGHT to have them, not necessarily RIGHT. I mean we are reading, listening and seeing a lot on how to change the focus of our life from changing others to changing ourselves. But it will take time, a lot of practice and a sincere will power. So that should be our eventual goal to work towards but for today I think it’s wise to acknowledge that we stand neck deep in them.

With this very clear background of differences and disappointments between couples, my focus and interest is now on what follows next. What comes next is anxious suffering between them and after enduring enough of it, comes the step to normalize or neutralize things. My husband and I had one such episode not so long ago. We had suffered for two days by then, the usual isolated indifferent, not-talking-type, estranged couple scenario. On the morning of the third day, I saw our little girl climbing, leaping and frolicking all over my husband’s arms, shoulders and head. Nothing unusual here, she does this acrobatic fun all the time. What struck me was that she had been strongly reprimanded by him just a few minutes ago and yet here she was all normal and they were already back together. While there we were, abnormal, sulking and upset for two whole days by now. I was honestly envious of the ease by which the tension could dissolve between them in a matter of minutes.
It made me wonder what was stopping me from liquefying the strain. And what was stopping him as well?  Not that the conflicts between couples are of some profound or grave magnitude always, most times they are as simple as kids’ fights or trivial misunderstandings. What then resists us from making peace and prolong the suffering? Only our big fat EGO. Who makes up to whom becomes the all pertinent and important question. Each is waiting for the other to take the initiative, to accept his wrong (mind you which is wrong according to you), apologize and make up.

A vicious circle forms when the fight begins in the first place out of some unmet or unmatched expectation or a clash of perspectives, which is further aggravated by the fact that the partner didn’t realize his fault and apologize or atleast not immediately, another unfulfilled expectation. Finally the circle breaks when one of you shows some sensibility to take the first step and talk.  Soon thereafter the stress begins to dissolve, the anguish begins to evaporate and the head and heart feel lighter. Despite this well vouched and personally experienced way, we choose not to do it.

I have an explanation for that because I have belonged there too several times. Our rationale is that why should I always make up or take the first step, after all I am not even wrong. Well, you should and you might take the first step because you are sensible, sensitive and after all suffering. So in your personal interest it’s the best thing to do. However, the ego will cross your path like a jinxed black cat right at the moment you set out to make things right. Dismiss the black cat and go ahead. I try to remind myself that being the first one to make up or communicate; neither depreciates me nor makes me vulnerable. It rather shortens my misery and proves that I am stronger than my ego.

Children are usually much closer to their divine self, which makes them more innocent and less corrupt, more easygoing and less egoistic. And probably this explains that no matter how much of a conflict comes between them and you, it resolves and neutralizes so much sooner. Also, with your kids your ego doesn’t flare up so much, hence there is minimum egoistic resistance from either side, there is a tender and affectionate exchange of energies, which is comforting. And it is well within our means to adopt this same approach with our partners. In fact we use our kids to start a conversation with or convey messages to our estranged spouses, because we shut down all forms of warm and direct responsiveness with them.

Life and people in it are precious. Differences, disagreements and expectations with these people are natural and predictable. We all have them but let’s not waste our days and mind by unduly stretching that rancidity and strain in relationships. Trust me it’s the most unproductive state of your mind. That morning my little sweetheart taught me to be quick to hug, quicker to hold hands and quickest to swallow your pride. By evening her lessons yielded me happy results.

Above all, why you should do what you need to do is because as Sister Shivani says, “let’s not be reflections and reflexes of others’ behaviour with us, let’s be our own.”