Fearless Truth is One of the Important Threads of Any Peaceful Relationship
We were having a conversation about peaceful relationships last night, and the question came up as to what the basis for such relationships is.
MAUDE: We have a wonderful flow that we have of being together and doing our own thing. You’re there for me in any way when I need you or to just laugh together. We’re definitely available with each other, but also free to just be with whatever our own thing is.
PHIL: If you need space, I give you space, or if you need contact, I sometimes recognize that and respond. It’s what Gottman calls a bid for attention.
MAUDE: Acknowledgment and recognition.
PHIL: Yeah, people seek something from the other person and the other person needs to respond to that in some way. I think that we maintain this sense of the other person. I think the being in touch with each other is possible because we are open with each other. And by being open, we’re also visible. And so that ties into the whole thing.
MAUDE: I bet it would definitely apply to any relationship. How you connect with the other person has to do with sensing where each of you is. I’m going to harken back to an aspect from last week that we were pointing out, too, that we have the kind of connection where there are no questions involved in it, neither party questions that it’s there and it exists. There’s something that’s unshakable. Like last week we talked about how at no time did we feel disconnected or separated or anything when we hit a bump. But in this case, looking at that element in it in slightly different words, it’s developing a trust, a surety in the connection that doesn’t leave you asking weird kinds of questions, like some people. Of course, this doesn’t exist at the beginning of a relationship when you’re just getting to know someone, but leaving that aside, what creates the kind of intimacy that leads to a peaceful relationship?
One of the elements is the surety, the lack of insecurity. Some women I know, if they don’t hear from someone or they put out something and they don’t get a response for a while, they’ll start to think something’s wrong. There’s a fragility there of always questioning the connection relatively quickly.
PHIL: I think that this solidity, this sense that you are talking about, is the sense of us. We find it very strange and don’t know how to talk about it, but there is a sense of us. And if I can get cerebral for a bit, when two hydrogen atoms come together, they make a hydrogen molecule and it has different characteristics from hydrogen atoms. All sorts of things acquire characteristics when combined or joined and so it is entirely feasible that when two people come together, they form a unit where ideas can trade, where more can happen than two single people. It’s something that is hard for us to put into words, but it cannot be denied.
MAUDE: I’ve never questioned that. I was tying it in with a sense of peace because it’s a very calming thing when you have that surety of the connection in a relationship. You’re never questioning that. None of your actions ever put that in question, like nothing that you’re going to do or say is going to make the other person think oh, they don’t like me or something that questions the connection and the relationship.
I think you have to be honest and establish trust of a very specific kind. It’s almost like a trust that you’re good, you’re present. That you’re there and you’re aware in the relationship, that you’re bringing yourself to it. You’re going to be open and honest and you bring yourself. That you’re actually there. Does that say anything?
PHIL: Oh yes, it says quite a lot. The sense of trust that I gain from knowing that you say it like it is, and you don’t do that meanly, you do it with goodwill.
MAUDE: Yeah, that’s why the word peace applies to all those things that we’re talking about, right? It is very calming.
PHIL: It gives a sense of peace because it’s unquestioned. From my side, being open is a wonderful gift I am given, that I can say to you how I am, and you go “Oh, thank you for telling me.” And this ability to just look at myself, find out what’s going on, and speak about it when appropriate or the time comes or it’s necessary or whatever is really liberating. This is the space in which I can be myself. And what I’m experiencing when I get from you what’s going on with you is that you are being yourself. The point is that these are reinforcing. It is both a pleasure to experience you and a pleasure to give it.
MAUDE: Another element is being there and being aware. Each person is presenting themselves, they’re actually there. There’s a commitment to actually be there, to be present to be there with yourself, be open, and be available and be aware of the other.
In our case, this enables us to have this experience of being able to be together and also be completely comfortable to go about our own thing. It’s a combination of surety, trust, honesty, openness and presence.
PHIL: All of those things tie together and reinforce each other. It’s like a natural valley or vortex or feedback loop, and once you act according to one of those descriptions, it moves you further towards that place of peace. They make up the threads of a peaceful relationship.
NOTE: This is the second week that the blog is a cleaned-up version of a conversation we had, and we wonder what you think of the format. Please let us know in the comments. That’s not a promise to do it (or not do it!) next week. We would appreciate your feedback on this though.
Here is Maude’s commentary on the conversation:
What are the threads and the glue of a peaceful relationship?
They lie in the very connection itself and the importance of the steadfastness of that connection. In every peaceful relationship, whether with a friend, a relative, or a romantic partner, there has to be both a feeling that the connection is solid and a lack of any need to question that. It requires a certainty that when issues or misunderstandings come up, they are issues to be handled by both of you together, and that at the same time, the connection itself is at heart always unassailable.
For that to be the case, an abiding trust needs to have developed between you. And in turn, that trust must be based on experience; the experience derived from honesty and openness. The kind of trust that underlies an unshakable connection is a fearless trust.
This lack of fear around the connection creates a level of calm and relaxation that is the very center of peaceful relating. It allows joy and freedom to reflect, and space to search within for answers rather than to react, blame, and accuse. It affirms the connection rather than causing separation and distance.
Love and bravery need to function together to ensure the openness and honesty that give rise to fearless trust. This is an honesty of spirit, and it doesn’t involve facts per se, but rather the revealing of feelings. To share your feelings and own your feelings, you have to know your feelings. Again inner work is called for and is most easily achieved in a give-and-take that is kind and filled with goodwill.
Learning how to create this kind of relating is what will enable us to navigate the twists and turns of interacting with each other. There is a saying often accredited to Bette Davis, “Getting old is not for sissies!” Fearless trust in your intimate relationships is quite similar. It is a giant step, but the rewards are immense as well!
Photo credit: Maude Mayes
Photo note: Couple in Alice Keck Park Gardens
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