“Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.” Carl Gustav Jung
Are you pleased with your romantic relationship?
Almost all of us are disappointed by our loves, to some extent. We all wish to find our soul mates, live happily till old age, and sweetly die one right after the other. Some of us even have a detailed script of their entire marvelous future, including the correct sweetheart and the perfect three kids of all genders.
Yet, most of us, when experiencing our first love and the ones that follow, tend not to feel that eternal wedded bliss. Instead, we go through fights which make us fear that our energies may start another cold war if not world war three. If we come upon the brilliant solution of departing from our unbearable lover and finding someone cuter, we’re usually shocked to realize that after a harmonic falling in love, the fights start over. Big time.
It seems despairing. Are we condemned to keep fighting for our entire lives? Will we always have to suffer these heartaches?
Well, not necessarily.
We can cut the fights down because we can gradually diminish our anger. And we don’t even need a fairy to do it for us.
It’s not easy, but it’s definitely in our hands.
Why Do We Fight With The Ones We Love The Most?
First, we need to understand how our anger is created. It requires some thinking, or some believing other people’s thinking, whatever is easier.
Anger, as we figure out, always happens the same way: we’re frustrated when there’s a gap between our expectations and reality.
That’s what makes us all angry. Always. There’s no other cause of rage. Check it.
Yet, we usually take our expectations for granted, so we’re oblivion to having them.
Take my engagement, for example.
After living with my geek prince-charming for a few months, I met my friends one evening and complained about my beloved not realizing I’m the love-of-his-life and not proposing to me yet. When I came home afterward my bored sweetheart asked me what we talked about, and being regrettably unable to lie, I had to tell him the embarrassing truth.
It made him very happy. He said he just didn’t know how to pop the question, and then and there asked me to marry him. I consented, and never regretted it (except for every major fight ever since, obviously). Yet, there wasn’t any engagement ring involved.
I waited patiently, but no diamond showed up.
So I had no choice but to mention the problem.
The next day he brought me a wide ring with tiny diamonds, which started falling even before I tried it on for the first time. I was frustrated and angry. How could he not know that engagement requires a diamond ring, and that if the ring is not respectable enough, it means that the love is not deep enough? Everyone knows that, and he was totally expected to know that, too!
So I was angry at him for not meeting my oh-so-justified expectations.
As usual, it was hand-made anger.
Which I could avoid, if only I knew how. I didn’t, then, but I learned it at first hand over the years, to your convenience.
When we become angry, we never ask ourselves why the hell anyone else should live up to our expectations. Even we can’t live up to our own expectations of ourselves (which make us angry at ourselves, too).
Our spouses are the ones we’re usually most angry with, because we have so many expectations of them, and we also expect them to live up to each and every one of those. Duty calls, right? Our lovers, as we all know, are the ones who should always understand our needs and fulfill them to the fullest.
Which they can’t, of course. No one can understand and fulfill all of another person’s needs. We can’t understand even our own needs, let alone others’. And fulfilling them is another impossible story.
So our usual expectations of our spouses aren’t very realistic, let’s face it.
No wonder we’re angry at them so much.
Who Should We Fight Instead?
Many of these expectations aren’t even ours to begin with. We unconsciously adopt plentiful expectations from our confused parents, fixated teachers, and not-always-benevolent advertisers. Buying an over-priced diamond to show love is not an idea we’re born with, for example. Not so surprisingly, these expectations are growing dramatically along with the progression of the consumer society, to the great delight of our conglomerates.
The problem is most apparent when it comes to romanticism. We’re supposed to produce increasingly extravagant shows on our proposals, weddings, anniversaries and valentines, and prove everybody how successful we are (while actually ruining our financial future).
Most of our expectations, therefore, are nothing but unconscious boundaries we force upon ourselves and upon others. No wonder the others fight it. Including our most beloved ones.
Where fighting hurts the most.
Where we better make the changes.
If only we knew how.
How Can We Get Domestic Peace?
After learning Dr. Dina Eisen’s suggestions as well as numerous others, and investigating tens of fights (conveniently, my relationship always gave me the pleasure of such investigations), I can recommend the following method:
1. Freezing – The clearest time to start making the change is when we start feeling angry. That’s the point where we should stop and think.
If we can. Sometimes we can’t stop ourselves. Sometimes our most beloved is yelling at us enthusiastically, and it’s difficult to take a time-out. But over time we get better at stopping.
2. Pondering – After we stop, we ask ourselves which expectation caused the anger.
We realize it wasn’t realistic to expect it (otherwise it would have been a reality,) yet we still expected it, and rightly so! Sometimes grasping the ridiculous source of our fury is enough to amuse and calm us.
On the other hand, sometimes understanding that this behavior is bound to repeat causes us despair and loneliness. Don’t run away, we’ll deal with it.
We remind ourselves that our spouses are on our sides, and that they want what’s best for us no matter what jerks they seem to be. Sometimes, when we realize that our erroneous lovers actually still love us in spite of their catastrophic mistakes, our thankfulness dissolves our rage. No heart is big enough for both gratefulness and anger. But sometimes we (rightly) feel ungrateful.
3. Inviting – When musing is not enough, we better find out what is it we really need, and what we have to do in order to fulfill our inner wish. Do we have to define exactly what we want, for the first time? Should we dare to say it, instead of criticizing others for not understanding it by themselves?
Then we bravely ask our annoying sweethearts for what we desire. Precisely. It has to be a request for concrete action at specific times or situations.
4. Combining forces – We ought to remember that sadly our loved ones are free to choose whether to accept our wish, and we must respect their choices. If they’re dumb enough to reject our request, we can converse with them until we find an agreeable solution.
When they agree, we better show our appreciation, and after only a few hundreds repeats they’ll probably remember to do it for us. Sometimes. God bless them. (It could have been more infuriating if it didn’t take us, too, so many repetitions to change our also-not-that-perfect behaviors.)
In the beginning it works better with the small issues, where you can easily see the other’s point of view, like deciding where you’ll live together. Then you can start working on the huge issues, which really drive you crazy, like your dearest’ habit of eating with their mouth open.
When we implement this method of dissolving our furies, we can prevent many of our rages from exploding on our loved ones. In addition, we can avoid swallowing our anger (swallowed anger is terribly bad for our health). Instead, we can prevent lots of fights, and transform our anger into requests and gratitude.
It’s not easy, and it takes a lot of exercise, time and heroism. But it works, ultimately. Moreover, when we become very experienced, many of our rages cheerily dissolve as soon as we recognize them.
How Can We Become Peaceful Peacemakers?
Little by little, one thankfulness after another, we can somewhat clean ourselves of anger, and clean our relationships of fights. Thus we’ll gradually have more of the peaceful harmonic relationships we dreamed about.
Over time we’ll find that our anger-shooting can work not only with lovers. It can also work with awful relatives who don’t know we’re always right, with idiot co-workers who don’t know right from wrong, and with evil politicians who don’t know right from left.
Our learning to respect others, and becoming a model of peace, can affect people farther and farther away. Eventually, our respect for others’ needs can lead to spreading world peace. Our share of it, anyway.
So we better start making peace with our loved ones.
One anger at a time.
One gratitude at a time.
Think of a fight you have regularly with your inconsiderate lover. What does the fool do that drives you nuts?
What is your absolutely-justified expectation? Does your sweetheart have a point, too?
What is it you really want? Try asking for it.
You’re welcome to share it with us.