It’s been a crazy three months. A poll this week found that 80 percent of people thought that the country was out of control. We have been writing about personal relationships for years, drawing from our direct experience. When the Coronavirus arrived, we couldn’t just carry on blithely as before, so we wrote about various aspects of relating in the year of the virus because it was front and center in everyone’s lives.
We are in the middle of watching the series “Vietnam” by Ken Burns: it’s 1968, the Tet offensive has occurred, there are street protests and four dead in Ohio. There are many echoes in the mass protests occurring today. We can’t ignore those, and yet how can we write our posts without getting political?
By continuing to draw from our personal relationship.
It is, for both of us, a rock in the stream, a place of peace. We see it both as a wonderful grace and something we have created by choice. Before you say “Oh, that’s nice, but I’m single,” we want to say that our ideas apply to all relationships, not just couples.
The first factor is that we each recognize that the other person is different and unique. Of course, we are similar too: we’re the same species, speak the same language; and both like trains, tea and bagels. But we’re different in sociability, reading matter, breakfast choices. We express ourselves differently in our words and actions, even though our core values and meanings match.
This sounds like such an obvious thing. Of course we are all different and unique! And yet, many of us seem to be seeking agreement, as if we want sameness. Just look at the endless debates on Facebook, Reddit or Twitter, and you will see this stretch for agreement in every corner. These are left-over vestiges of our tribal consciousness. They were important behaviors for survival at a certain point, but they should have long been discarded. Difference is not a threat in and of itself. Growth and evolution require change and variety, and an ever-greater ability to adapt is required to understand the benefits of both.
Your relationships can be rocks in the stream, places of peace #relationships #quote Click To TweetIn our case, the next thing is that we’re OK with those differences. They’re what make each of us who we are. They’re not big deals. They’re more a source of admiration, curiosity and inspiration. “Gee, I could never do that.” “Wow, that’s an interesting way to do things.” “I never thought of looking at it that way!”
And here’s the real secret: that’s just fine. We might gain a new way of being or doing from the other’s approach. We can do this with each other because we’re in partnership, not competition. We want the best for each other always, and we both know that is so. We are not looking for replicas of ourselves – we already have ourselves.
We can accept different ways of behaving because we don’t feel the need to control exactly how things are done, and the magic is that in this way, we offer each other complete freedom, and that sense is so liberating. It’s like taking your shoes or bra off after a long day. It’s like the first day of summer vacation.
This is the place of peace that our relationship gives us, and it is our rock in these times, but you don’t have to be in a couples relationship for this. What we have created comes from within as much as from the other person. You can take that attitude and extend it to everyone, to every relationship. Some people will not reciprocate and some will reflect it right back to you. Either way, you will be spreading peace in the world.
There is no way to peace, peace is the way. Thich Nhat Hanh
Photo credit: Sam Amato