Question: If there is a fight going on with my wife, and she gets angry, and I too get angry. Won’t that create more friction?
Acharya Prashant: You know what, you don’t get angry when fighting with your spouse, because you assume that she is not as strong as you. Do you see that? You say, “She is the weak one, so let her be angry. I am the more responsible one, so it is upon me to not to get angry.” Is that not what the assumption is? Now see what is actually happening. You are assuming her to be weak and she is controlling you. So, who are you? Weaker than the weak. Do you see this?
Listener: For that moment, it is a good idea to…
AP: Have you ever tested anything else? Except your so called good ideas, have you allowed anything else to take shape?
There is life outside your assumptions. And you know how much violence is there in not being angry? Even when you are not being angry, then you are constantly being contemptuous towards the other. You are saying, “You do not even deserve my anger. You are so weak and so foolish that if I display my anger, you will crumble and collapse. I cannot even show my anger to you.”
Do you see how violent that is? Or is this a loving relationship, in which you keep swallowing your pride, your anger, all that which is bubbling within you. Are you silent because you are so loving? Is it love that keeps you mum? Or is it something else? I am asking.
L: Sir, it is the fear that a fight may evolve and sometimes you are afraid to say what you want to say.
AP: There are innumerable couples like these in which one chooses to seal his lips, his tongue, in order to keep the marriage going. And his contention is that I am the more mature one, I am the more responsible one, so I do not speak out.
L: Truth is otherwise
AP: See, not speaking is beautiful, but not speaking from a center of love. And it is not beautiful when it is happening from a center of compromise.
If you love your wife or husband so much that even when he/she is hurling abuses at you, you can joyfully smile. Then obviously there is no point speaking or retaliating. But if you are boiling within and yet keeping a lid on yourself, because you are afraid, then this silence is just violence. Is it not?
L: That lid is there, because it seems when the lid is blown, everything will be blown.
AP: You must test that. You must test that.
L: May be when things cool down a bit.
AP: Does anything cool down or do things only get into another cycle of boiling? So that you are either fighting or preparing for a fight. What you call as cooling down, is just the beginning of preparation for the next showdown. So, you are either fighting or gathering ammunition to fight. Where is peace in this? Where is love?
Sir, life is short, it is not about somehow accommodating and managing to live that Let me somehow manage it. “Oh she is angry now, let me somehow manage these moments, and then I will get two days of peace. And then after two days, when again there is an eruption, then again I will employ some tactic and manage to keep things in control.” Is this how we want to live, by managing to keep things in control? Is this what you call as blissful living?
That’s why I say that sorrow and pain are so important and one must not label them as unwanted. Please experience them, please go to the very depths of them. That is where you may find something terribly important.
Spirituality is not at all an escape from sorrow. Spirituality is about understanding, including the understanding of sorrow.
See, this may work. Practically what you are saying, may work and it is possible to live for another ten years or thirty years in this state of negotiated compromise. But what are we? Warring nations. Managing some kind of a diplomatic truce? Is this what you were born for? To live in a house via an agreement. I am asking you, please.
L: When somebody keeps quiet, it proves that it is actually a truce. It’s not a blissful living. There is something going on in the mind. She thinks that you don’t care, you are not sensitive and you think that she is not rational enough to understand that you love her that is why you are not speaking. It is not a blissful living. Blissful living is when you…
AP: When you have the confidence to be expressed.
You see, when you are young, then there is such an urge to get physically naked, right? Now if you cannot expose your emotions, your thoughts, where is that nakedness? And can there be intimacy without nakedness? Is it all about just casting off your clothes? If you cannot really let yourself be exposed mentally, what is the point in just being naked on the bed? Real nakedness is about revealing your very essence. That is when you are intimate. That is when you can call yourself a lover.
L: What to do if the other is saying, “I can’t express myself because you don’t give me space to express.”
AP: See, love is not an obligation. It’s quite possible that someone may somehow not be comfortable in a particular way. Let him have his way. Let him has his own way. You cannot impose it upon the other, directly or indirectly. Because, if you suffer because of the other, in some way you are imposing it on the other. Because you are saying, “In some way, I am suffering because of you. So, it’s now incumbent upon you to behave properly.” Does that not happen? “Because you are not doing something right, so I am suffering. Now I am not complaining, but just the fact of my suffering must force you to change.”
Don’t suffer. Your suffering is violence upon the other.
L: But you have said that, experience your pain and sorrow. So, how to experience that pain and sorrow?
AP: Let it be, don’t repress it. Now, if the pain is there, why must you still act as if it is not there? Expression is hindered by only one thing, fear. And that is a lack of sureness. If I express myself, it may go from bad to worse.
L: If the other tries to adapt to a situation, or to change, is it a good thing then?
AP: You see, adapting, changing, all of these are actions. Why are they happening? Are they happening because I see that it is important for me to develop, to be more mature, to grow, to be clear? Then it is alright. Otherwise, I am just trying to change. I am trying to change, remaining what I am. I am trying to change, so that my objectives, with the other person, may be fulfilled. You know the difference between these two?
Real change is never with an external objective. Real change happens, because you see that something within you, is waiting to be expressed. Real change happens because you cannot avoid it. You have seen the false, and the false is now ready to go. So, the change happens.
And then there is negotiated change, cultivated change that happens when you say, “You know what, she does not like when I wear western formals. So, I am now switching to Kurta Pajama.” This is that negotiated change.
Mind you, I am not giving a recipe for having a successful relationship with a particular person. We are talking about, what real relationships are. Not real relationships with a particular person, in a particular way of your fancies. When people talk about relationships what they mean is, “Here is this person and here is the kind of relationship that I want to have with him, now tell me how to have it” Now, this is impossible. You are actually asking, “How to hold that person prisoner?” “Here is the person of my choice and here is the type of relationship I will have, determined by my choice. Now, you tell me how to have this kind of relationship with that particular person.” This is too much. Are you getting it?
Relationships happen, by the way. “By the way.”
Relationships, must not happen in spite of what you are. Relationships must happen, given what you are. Want an improved relationship? Be more of yourself.
L: Sir I was reading the book, “The lover you have been missing” and it had a chapter, ‘ “In your rotten normal Love, you destroy your lover” in which you said how the lover imposes your mind on the other and vice versa, which is true. You invade the space of others and the other also does the same. So, there becomes a conflict.
AP: Because both of them are operating from their own personal centers. Both of them want the other to be the man or woman of their fancies. And both of them want the relationship to take a particular shape as per their own personal demands. Now, both of them are distinct individuals. So, their fancies don’t really converge. There remains a dissonance, and hence a conflict. You want the woman to be the woman of your dreams, equally the woman wants you to be the man of her dreams. Now these are personal, separate dreams. You are not Brad Pitt, she is not Penelope Cruz.
Hence there can be no convergence.
L: How would it be, if one person still operates from his personal center and the other does not?
AP: The other will not bother then. The question will disappear.
The demand that the other must operate from a better center, arises only when you are still not yourself, centered. Take this as a test – the more off center you are, the more will be the demand, within you to change the other. You will keep asking, “Why you are not centered.” When you are alright, then your very presence has a healing effect. Then you do not question the other, then you heal the other, not deliberately. Because if you do it deliberately, then you will harm the other. Just your walk, just your way of looking, it heals the other.
And don’t try to be a healer. That is another big trap.
L: Actually, the Problem is that husband and wife take each other for granted.
It happens because we have a terrible lack of respect for the immediate. It is a spiritual thing. Don’t you see that? We are so much enamored with the distant, that we have no respect for the present. In fact the closer you are with someone, the more contemptuous he will be, towards you. He may be full of admiration for someone who is far away. And that is obvious, because we are dismissive towards everything that is near to us. Aren’t we always planning for the future? Is the grass not always greener on the?
L: Other side.
AP: Hence the person who is close to you, will always be looked down upon. His offence is that he made himself available.
L: My mother used to cook great food for us. We never told her that the food is delicious. And then I got married and my wife came in, from a different family. And her father used to say, hey the food is delicious. And when she came in and we were not talking about the food she cooked, she was like, “Hey you guys, you don’t appreciate at all.” And then we realized that just to say that the food is delicious, is such a big thing. And now when I say it to my mother today, as we developed this habit over time, her face lights up.
AP: You see, it is so strange. When it is available, we don’t acknowledge. When it is not available, we complain. Now, if it means nothing to you when it is there, then it also should not mean anything to you when it is not there. But when it is not there, then we are quick to complain. Is that not, not only not spiritual but also not logical. “If I meant nothing to you when I was available, why do you sob when I go away?” When I go away, then you sob but when I am there then not even two hoots, that is how our attitude is, towards entire existence.
See, all our relationships are ultimately a reflection of our relationship with Truth. If towards Truth, towards God, you are respectful, only then will you be respectful towards anybody else. We talked of availability, immediacy,
Truth is the most available and the most immediate. If you cannot respect Truth because it is available and immediate, then you cannot respect your friend or your wife either.
Wife is close. But, at least for a few moments she goes away. Sometimes she must be going away even for months. Truth is so immediate that it does not go away even for a split second. Truth is closer to you, than anything or anybody else. That is why a man, who is not spiritual, cannot have any real relationship. And if there is distaste in your relationships, you must know that there is something lacking in your spirituality.
The more deeply spiritual you get, the more deeply fulfilling your relationships get. That is why when people come to me and talk about their relationships with each other, man and wife, I say, forget each other, you talk about your relationship with yourself. If you are alright with yourself, you will be alright with the other as well. If you are not alright with your wife, I immediately get to know that there is something missing between you and God. Because you are not yet fully exposed in front of God and hence you cannot be fully exposed in front of your wife either.
You hide so much from God, obviously you will hide from your wife also.
You cannot belong to God, how will you belong to your wife?
Or any relationship – father and son, friend and friend, brother and brother. Any relationship, same thing.
L: The problem is that when the relationship is of fear and anxiety and restlessness, the another person can’t understand. I may be restless because I am not happy, but the other people can’t understand it because it’s me who is restless. And that restlessness creeps into the relationships and life.
AP: Yes, but the problem, does it not precede the restlessness? I am asking you, “I am restless, with respect to my job, why must not the family, rather be a healing effect upon me. I return from the job, anxious. Why must not the house be then a place of healing?”
L: My restlessness creeps into my family and then they become unhappy as well.
AP: I am asking, does the distrust, not precede the event in the office. Why aren’t we saying, that the sanity and the peace in the family, creep into the restlessness in the office? Why am I not saying that? Why am I not saying, that my house is so composed that being what I am in the house, I cannot become anxious in the office. Why don’t we say that? Why do we always say that the workplace anxiety creeps into the house? Why don’t we say that the homely peace, creeps into the office? Why don’t we say that
Because peace is not there in the home, in the first place. Lack of peace precedes the anxiety in the office. Lack of peace at home is not caused by anxiety at office. it precedes that. It is anyway present.
L: Home, being my home, who is to be held responsible when there is no peace there?
AP: Obviously myself.
L: If there is no peace in the office and home is not having any soothing effect on me, then…
AP: In some sense, the home and office are not different. They are just places of relationships – home, office, spouse or colleague, child or boss, ultimately it is you who is getting related.
Keep your primary relationship strong and all other relationships will be alright. Your primary relationship is with Truth. There you must remain firm like a pillar. There you must remain fluid and yet unmoving, like the ocean. Then all other relationships will be taken care of.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: How to relate better to one’s wife?
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