How can we practice peace within our relationships? Delve into this question with us through these excerpts from How Two: Have a Successful Relationship:
One of the most surprising aspects of our relationship is the direct experience of peace that it engenders. This follows naturally from the alternatives to conflict that we practice. For us, peace is not a void described by the absence of conflict, anger or war. Peace is an actual experience. It is filled with calm, assurance of goodness, acute awareness of presence, acceptance of what is, joy, and overflowing love. It is both intense passionate happiness and quiet, rock-solid reassurance. Peace permeates all of our interactions and is our underpinning, our foundation. We are convinced that this knowledge and the direct experience of actual peace can be available in every relationship.
Peace Through Acceptance
One of the keys to knowing true peace within your relationship is practicing acceptance. This occurs when neither of you participates in the one-upmanship of power struggles or the insistence on being right. When you truly accept your partner, you are not busy trying to make them someone else.
Practicing this kind of acceptance eliminates the root of much of the conflict and alienation people have in their relationships. Instead, it leads to a state of peace that cannot really be imagined before experiencing it. The kind of calm and relaxation that emerges when you do not feel the need to defend or protect your person is filled with joy and creative power.
Peace Through Individuality
The same is true when you truly honor the individuality of your partner. It is surprising and very revealing to see how much of a challenge it can be to recognize that, no matter how much you and your partner share core values, you are still distinctly different and completely unique individuals. When you treat your partner’s views and feelings as having as much validity as your own, you offer a place where they can exist in comfort: they do not have to bend down because the ceiling is too low; they need not avoid the side of the couch where the springs stick out; they don’t need to step outside to stretch. There is no need to find a more comfortable abode.
It requires a secure sense of your own individuality to take the leap of accepting your partner as a separate individual, and to understand that this strengthens your union and doesn’t challenge it. When you not only recognize this, but also value and rejoice in this separateness and difference, you are creating that free and undefended state in both yourself and your partner that is so necessary for peace to exist.
Peace Through Presence
Our dissatisfactions rarely arise from what is in front of us. Instead, our past learning and our future fears intrude to disturb our peace. Our knowledge of the world takes two forms: ideas in the mind, and what we know from direct experience. Being present is a way to see that these intrusions do not exist in the world, but only in our mind. When we can see the world for how it is, we can act accordingly.
When you take this approach, you are not plagued by worries and creations of the mind. You do not see your partner in terms of the past, and you are not projecting about how they might behave; consequently, you are in an undefended state and have the opportunity to share experiences in the moment, and through these experiences, a mutual reality.
When you and your partner are truly present with each other, you both feel heard and seen. You share yourselves intimately and appreciate the other. Out of this arises a feeling of connectedness that gives you a deep-seated experience of peacefulness, relaxation and joy which can permeate your whole day.
Your Goals May Reach Further Than You Think
You think you are working on yourself and your relationship, and indeed you are. But there is another unexpected component that arises from this work. Practicing peace in your relationship has results that affect more than just the two of you. Firstly, it influences other people by example. Secondly, you start treating others the same way. It ripples out into the world and, by showing what is possible, inspires people to be their best. The direct experience of peace, and the calm yet ecstatic sense of joy and love that arise from this state, is catching and very powerful. Let’s go forth and change the world!
The above is from our book How Two: Have a Successful Relationship. We’d like to close with our vision statement:
1. Loving peaceful relationships exist. We have one.
2. Peace is a tangible reality. It can be experienced and spread.
3. Our vision is to share how people can relate to each other peacefully.