Yesterday I was out late and hadn’t seen my husband and family since the morning. All the way home I was thinking about how great it was going to be to talk with them about the progress another family member was making in a personal journey. I may have driven a little too fast on the highway, just anticipating getting to the house. I imagined everyone already standing around, sharing thoughts and stories as they beamed with happy smiles and laughter, and pressed a little harder on the gas pedal.
When I finally got home, I practically burst in the door, hugged my husband, then gushed, “Did you hear about his day?”
“Oh, yeah, I heard,” he said with a tone that did not match up with the upbeat feelings I was having.
“Wait, did you hear about who he saw?”
With a little more back and forth, it was clear that, while we had the same information, we definitely did not have the same perspective. Since this was a beloved family member we were talking about, I may have gotten just a teensy bit offended that my husband didn’t have the same lofty view of the situation that I did.
When I realized that he wasn’t coming off his position, I could have pressed the point, pushing the issue with him until it turned into a full blown “thing”. If you’re in a close relationship with someone you know what a “thing” is. Most of us don’t like getting embroiled in “things” (sometimes known as “disagreements”, “spats”, “fights”, “arguments”, or “world war III”) with our significant other but sometimes it seems we get sucked into the “thing” by an irresistable force.
I think the irresistable force is resistance. Interesting thought, there. It’s the notion that I have to stand my ground, be unmoved, make the other person or thing come around to me. And it’s so easy to justify resistance in a situation like I was having with my husband. We were talking about someone very important to us, and my husband needed to come around and be more positive about the situation. Right?
Well, it’s right if you want to get into the “thing.” Otherwise, not so much. I was tired last night, so it’s an extra blessing that I was able to do what so many times I have not done – release. I released my husband from my self-created obligation to come around to my way of thinking. I let go and relaxed into the moment and into reality: we didn’t see eye to eye on this issue and that was OK. My husband was OK and I was OK.
I said it, too: “Well, OK.” I gave a little shrug of my shoulders and planted a big kiss on his cheek, then went into our room to change into my warm pajamas. It was cold in Florida last night!
The thing about this kind of release is that it’s not really release if I hold a little grudge, a little resentment, a little something-something that makes the interaction from that point on weird. I’ve done that so many times – saying OK when I really wasn’t OK. That’s not releasing, that’s just postponing the inevitable “thing” for a little while. That’s holding on while pretending to release.
Anything other than full 100% investment in release is going to lead to more pain.
So when my husband came into the bedroom a couple of minutes later, I took the conscious step of greeting him with a genuine smile of happiness like I usually would anytime we were not having a “thing”. I welcomed his presence and non-verbally let him know that I was in a state of release. I made eye contact, had a relaxed posture, and kept doing what I was doing while still paying attention to him.
Because I had released the situation, my husband felt that and was able to soften on his position some and truly listen to my thoughts. We had a short, calm, loving, polite, respectful discussion on the issue and affirmed each others’ convictions while moving toward each other’s positions and meeting somewhere in the middle.
A big accomplishment for 9pm on a weeknight.
Image courtesy of Martin Pettitt