What are the Characteristics that Create a Sense of Peace in Relationships?
PHIL: Does a hydrogen molecule exist? Yes; it’s made of two hydrogen atoms and has an existence over and above its two atoms. A single hydrogen molecule in a room is not the same as two hydrogen atoms at opposite ends of the room. (I could go on about emergent properties and complexity theory, but I won’t.)
In a similar way, when two people come together, a relationship is formed which is neither one person nor the other, but has an existence all of its own. It is immaterial, yet it exists. We speak of relationships all the time – “He broke off their relationship.” “I have a good relationship with my boss.” – yet we are often not aware of the relationship itself; we only notice the feelings that it evokes. We often do not see it because we are so focused on ourselves and our responses that we cannot transcend our ego and perceive anything beyond it.
Have you ever looked at something and not seen it despite someone pointing it out? It might be a bird in a tree or one of those figure-and-ground pictures. A relationship is like that. It’s more than just your feelings or a non-disclosure agreement. You could say that it’s just the sum of the other person’s behavior and feelings and your own, but that reduces it to the characteristics of the two parts – two hydrogen atoms, not one hydrogen molecule. The point is that it is something you can experience over and above your own responses because it is the product of both of you
Now for the next step. When your relationship is peaceful and harmonious, you remain connected whether you are together or apart. There is never any sense of disconnection. With full acceptance (pretty much a prerequisite of a peaceful relationship), you never feel a need to leave in order to protect your individual identity. Neither does your partner, so disconnection never occurs, and the struggle of reconnecting is not necessary.
Being aware of the relationship as something in and of itself is a help in maintaining the connection, and the more you pay attention to this, the more you will marvel at this connection that is both you and not you.When your relationship is harmonious, you remain connected whether you are together or apart Click To Tweet
MAUDE: In relationships that exude a sense of peace and shared joy there are recognizable characteristics. What are they and how do you imbue yours with them? The answer is remarkably simple, and yet so few people have had this modeled in their early family lives, that as a result these are sadly missing skills in many relationships.
The answer lies in the sense of connectedness, of kindredness in the relationship. What characterizes this sense of connection? With this kind of relating, there is an awareness that you do not have to think about to feel. You recognize it. You do not go in and out of connection. Whether you are together or apart, that bond exists. It is mutual. If one of you goes in and out, the peaceful assurance this way of being creates will also be broken. This does not require being in each other’s presence continuously; in fact, quite the opposite. It allows separate action without any disturbance or experience of estrangement.
Aside from the lack of modeling of this kind of relating, another potential challenge is the strong sense of individuality and the defenses of that individuality you may have set up through your life.
If this sense of connection has been eluding you, do not despair! The thread that leads away from these barriers is something you can achieve with the intention to do so and some practice. It comes with the overriding knowing that you are on the same side. How can that become an actuality?
When you work toward finding mutual solutions and decisions, you create the experience of being on the same side. It becomes a visceral reality. The more you do this, the stronger the awareness and recognition of your connection becomes. It remains with you, stronger all the time, and it gives a warmth of calm and comfort.
To find this sense of being on the same side, speak it out loud. Remind each other of that reality. When you communicate, do it as two people who are working together; not competing, not arguing, not trying to be right. It helps to let go of preconceived ideas of desired outcomes. Stay open to each other’s input. When you have set outcomes in mind, you are in your head with your thoughts instead of with the other person creating mutuality.
There is only one side and you are both on it.
Photo credit: Phil Mayes
Photo note: Phil and Maude on anniversary
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