August 4 2017 at 7:25pm ·

My husband and I, in typical fashion sparred on the battlefield of marriage especially in the first decade of our union.  Being fierce and feisty, I would often lose my temper and lash out at him, and he would clam shut like an oyster in pearl hunt.  My excuse was that I put up with his emotional distance and passive aggression for long periods before I lost my temper. His excuse was that I was always so unpredictable that if he said anything he didn’t know how I’d react. This kind of behaviour became cyclical, where each of us justified our own behaviour because the other person was ‘being unreasonable”. In short each of us were unhappy about how we were being treated by the other. Some typical thoughts included, “I am so frustrated because “he” or “she” does not do XYZ.” Put another way “why does he (or she as the case may be) not see what my needs are, but he expects me to fulfil his? The starting point is therefore a need to take first before you give. The quid pro quo element creeps in. The turning point for me, was when I changed my mind set. I looked at what was important to him and truly wanted to understand his fears and needs, before I start demanding things from him. In other words, compassion overcame my demand -control approach. I replaced my thinking and phraseology – Instead of “How could you do (xyz)?” or “You just don’t pay attention because it’s not important to you?”, my narrative changed to “I wonder what happened that he didn’t do xyz? Did he experience difficulties because I know he wouldn’t purposely get it wrong”? Instead of making him feel worthless and stupid (which I know he is not), I first got his perspective and no longer made assumptions about his actions. I must first engage him with respect and understand where he is coming from. If he didn’t get the correct medicine for our son who was writing matric exams, instead of crashing down on him with “didn’t you pay attention”, I listened to his explanation of how events unfolded. I then also thought about the fact that he was the one sacrificing his time to fetch the meds and would not deliberately get the wrong meds. How could I be angry and play a blame game if I thought about it properly. I started empathising with him instead of demanding from him. When he felt the release of the pressure I used to exert on him, without necessarily understanding it, he opened up to me and drew closer. If I show him respect and enquire rather than accuse, his response is infinitely calmer and more reassuring than it used to be and enhances our mutual love and respect for each other. By the way, I showed him the respect he deserves by requesting his permission to share on social media, some of our experiences. I cannot speak of him to others without his consent. If I speak ill of him to others, I am not clothing him with the protection that husbands, and wives should afford each other. If I speak good of him I do not wish him to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. To him this kind of respect is more important than giving him hugs and kisses, although those are also welcomed. My mind-set changed when I introspected because I needed to find out how to meet my obligations to God – in my marriage, my relations with other people and my life. I could only begin this journey by looking inward to discover where my soul is departing from its true destination. I reflected on what God wants from me and how can I deliver. In the scriptures I follow, He says for husbands and wives to be a covering for each other and to have kindness and compassion towards each other and be the coolness of each other’s eyes. After the honeymoon stage, this almost seems impossible. I looked for other clues. Gradually over the years and with rigorous self-examination, I worked through the things that triggered me and the reasons behind my anger and aggression and it pointed straight back to me and how I felt about myself and the world. I also realised that the emptiness and conflict I felt was because I was not fully comprehending my purpose here. Was I created just to get what I wanted on this earth and use God as a means of acquiring what I want or think I need? This was not working for me. Even when I got what I asked for I was not satisfied. There must be a deeper meaning to life. Human beings are by nature forced to interact with each other, depend on each other and be of mutual benefit to one another. These natural inclinations of our souls are tested in our relationships with each other. When we lose sight of that we start reacting in negative ways. the result is the atrocities we see in the world today. Murder, cruelty, greed, oppression. These matters weigh heavily on me and I had to begin at the most basic point and consider whether my perspective of my role here was not marred by the distractions that my ego was presenting to me. My marriage, was the catalyst to discovering how I sought to serve myself before others. I always thought of myself as a kind giving person, yet when I uncovered the layers of my psyche I realised that even though I was a giving person in general, I still engaged my husband from the perspectives of how he can make me happy, be a good husband etc. etc. I was therefore being a taker instead of a giver. It led me to realise that my relationship with my Creator was one of pleading, asking and there was little I was delivering. Just like my relationship with my husband, save that I was asking and not demanding. That was when I realised that I was not being of service to God and my soul ached a result. One of the ways is to follow His guidance through my intuition and inner moral code to be of service to other humans I co-exist with.  Radia💌