I was surprised by how popular my post “Marriage: The First Ten Years Were The Hardest” was. It really struck a nerve.
For Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share the three keys that allowed me to fall in love with my husband all over again, and help me to keep falling in love with him more each day. I love you Angus!
- Understanding my husband’s upset is never personal. Part of what contributed to the suffering in our relationship was how reactive I was to Angus’ anger. I had no tolerance for this behavior. I judged him for his anger. I saw him as wrong and bad. Why? Because I took it personally. It was a personal affront to me that he was not happy, and I was particularly indignant if he was mad at me. “How dare he!”, I would think. I had no tolerance for his humanness in this area. I was not able to have compassion for his reality when it included him being unhappy with me. Now what I see is that he is human. He is not always going to behave in ways I like. When he is upset, that is his issue. He is destabilized. I don’t have to take what he is saying personally because I know it is not coming from a clear place inside of him. I may even feel compassion for him when he is upset. And when I don’t take his anger personally, I am better able to understand his point of view so we can find common ground more easily.
- Prioritizing goodwill. I am highly competitive. I always like to excel. I wasn’t competitive in sports because I wasn’t good at them. I took my ambition to academia, personal improvement and then to my marriage. This was a wonderful recipe for burn out and how to stamp out feelings of love. I still see more and more how my competitive nature does not serve me in the realm of love. Just this weekend at a training, I saw how me getting my way through stubbornness and tenacity may have short term gains, but takes away from the good feelings between Angus and I. Being willing to trust that working things out in mutually agreeable ways is what increases feelings of goodwill and trust in our relationship. This is always more important than me getting my way.
- Realizing how resilient I am. I used to think that my happiness was outside of me. I thought Angus was a big source for my happiness. When I learned that my happiness is inside of me, I thought I needed outside circumstances to be a certain way in order to access the inner happiness. That meant I needed Angus to be kind and loving for me to be able to feel my happiness. When I saw that it is never outside circumstances that get in the way of me feeling my wellbeing, only my thoughts can get in the way of me experiencing my wellbeing, I recognized that I was looking in the wrong direction. Now it is easier for me to not point fingers when I am upset, and to not take my upset so seriously because I know it is passing thoughts that will settle.
Rohini Ross is a psychotherapist, a leadership consultant, and an executive coach. Rohini facilitates personalized three-day retreats to help individuals, couples, and professionals connect more fully with their true nature and experience greater levels of wellbeing, resiliency, and success. You can find out more about Rohini’s work on her website, rohiniross.com.