The Distance Virus: Don't Let That Virus Spread in Your Relationship
I was working with a couple to repair their marriage and along that road they both became aware of something they’d never given thought to.
It was the ability to confront or grant beingness to their partner when their partner did, said, or acted in a way that was difficult to confront.
I’m going to use a very simple example of this to highlight what brought them closer together.
Have you had this situation in your relationship where you began to notice some condition or thing about your partner that no matter how much you loved them, there was something about their appearance or attitude that you just found hard to experience?
You know, like maybe your husband now has a noticeable beer belly that he didn’t have when you married him. Or your wife gained weight and opted for a one-piece bathing suit instead of that bikini she used to wear when you frolicked at the beach.
Not earth-shattering things in the bigger picture look. In fact they may not be problems at all for millions of couples in relationships.
And I chose a simple, yet not an entirely unrealistic subject, regarding physical appearance as an example only to underscore the more basic underlying problem.
And that is the ability for a being to be able to be, experience, or have, the condition or quality in another.
And let me explain this a bit further.
Weight or snoring or your spouse chewing with their mouth open, and a laundry list of other peculiarities, are not the problem.
Sure, when your lovable husband chews with his mouth open you grit your teeth and “grin and bear it.” You may want so smack his chomping mouth all the way to China, but you do your best to experience it and love him anyway.
Except that in some cases, something occurs here that begins to breakdown the affinity with your partner.
Let me give you an example of what I mean.
If you have ever looked out at or gazed at the Rocky Mountains, the Eiffel Tower, or something aesthetic and scenic, you basically can “have” that experience.
Have, meaning not that you own it in your pocket, but have in the sense that “I can have and experience the Eiffel Tower by looking at it.”
In other words you can BE the experience you are looking at.
You can just BE THERE and experience the beauty of the view.
And this is not some kind of woo-woo New Age crap.
If your wife shows you her new hair cut and your immediate unspoken reaction is, “WTF did you do to your hair?!” you are simply unable to BE THERE and EXPERIENCE her new hairdo easily.
In short simple words:
YOU CANNOT HAVE IT AS IT IS.
Again, not the end of the world.
But I will tell you the seeds that sow a relationship’s eventual demise:
When you cannot BE SOMETHING or HAVE SOMETHING the way THAT IT IS, you will begin to SEPARATE YOURSELF from that person or thing just slightly.
Although there is a bit more basic understanding of what leads to this feeling of separateness, both Ann and Jim (names changed) became aware each in their own way, why they could not easily EXPERIENCE or HAVE those things that were annoying, unattractive, or somehow did not sit well with them.
Where they once felt they could be and experience practically anything with their partner, they began to feel a bit different.
A bit separate.
Like, “I don’t know why she doesn’t just lose that weight.” Or, “He needs to drink less beer and hit the gym more often.”
And this little tiny fissure that begins to crack in a relationship is not about the actual thing they are pointing their fingers at.
It’s not pounds and sounds.
IT’S YOUR OWN ABILITY TO HAVE IT OR NOT HAVE IT, OR EXPERIENCE THAT THING OR PERSON EASILY.
Follow me on this. I’m not trying to be Shakespearean.
Let’s flip the view here just to make this more clear.
If you stood in front of the Eiffel Tower, Grand Canyon, or something where you were you were just in awe, yet while you’re admiring it your partner says something like this:
“The tower is kind of old and rusted. Someone should paint it.”
You look at him like he was an alien and not your husband.
DIFFERENT LEVEL OF HAVINGNESS.
You could have it or experience it as-it-is.
He experienced it differently. He wanted to have it another way.
Now this could (and often does) devolve into an argument about the merits of the Eiffel Tower or what have you.
All that happened is that one or both of you at that precise moment became SEPARATE. You were no longer being a couple.
You were for a split second, two separate people. There was this infinitesimal distance that came between you and your partner.
Because of something they said or did.
Like they said they had scurvy or something.
Not physical distance.
WTF is spiritual distance?
You know, like when you’ve had a slight tiff with your partner before going to bed, and then in bed you are physically right next to them but this tiff created distance.
He or she could be on Mars as far as you’re concerned.
You might not even want to touch them.
That’s spiritual distance.
You wake up the next morning with this “distance” still between you as you both go through the motions and social pleasantries of getting ready for work.
That distance can be there all day. Until one or both of you realize it’s stupid and you get together and communicate and bam, all is good again.
Now if you’re following this with me, these “little things” will often sit there as part-and-parcel of your own creation of that distance.
The wife might be a tad less affectionate.
The husband might carry around a picture of “the wife he had with long hair,” and be a bit more out of communication.
The eye-opener for Ann and Jim was that these were choices they each made about their relationship with each other.
And as soon as that light bulb went on, that it wasn’t about the other, they almost could not believe it. This is why I love what I do.
Two beings who love each other are actually humbled and look at each other like, “How the hell did we get here?”
What one needs to understand is that basic to ANY CONDITION is your ability to BE THERE and EXPERIENCE or HAVE IT AS IT IS.
You will not change the rusted bolts of the Eiffel Tower, but you can change your viewpoint and ability to experience it as it is.
It’s a completely volitional thing.
Yet many of us are at some level hardwired to “wish it were otherwise,”
“Why doesn’t she just go to the gym?” “Why doesn’t he just cut back on the beer?”
This is simply:
I WISH IT WERE DIFFERENT THAN MY ABILITY TO EXPERIENCE IT AS IT IS.
“Expectation is the root of all heartache.”
Yeah, that Will Shakespeare was a pretty bright boy.
If you could see it is YOUR OWN VIEWPOINT and YOUR OWN ABILITY TO CHOOSE and EXPERIENCE the person or thing with YOU AS A CAUSE point, then what you are viewing does not need to change.
Only how you view it, and your ability to have or experience it just as it is.
Once Ann and Jim could BE THERE with the condition in the other, then they were able to COMMUNICATE about it rationally.
They could not communicate about it initially, because they couldn’t HAVE it. They could not experience it. It’s not what they expected.
So, they separated themselves out from it and each other.
Then gradually went out of communication.
And their relationship began to build up these moments they could not experience easily, and with each experience they went further out of communication.
What they saw was that this “distance” was not, “This is just what happens when you’ve been married a long time.”
It was not, “We just grew a part. (A famous one).
No. They realized their own causation and participation in the actual fissure. They each realized that this “distance” was a created thing by going out of communication and putting the problem on the other.
Yeah. That’s a sure recipe for dividedness.
Recognizing this was not easy.
The problem they realized is the experience of the moment is immediate so they would react, instead of just be there and experience.
The belly, the tower, the one-piece.
It’s like, “Can you have me like this?”
Your immediate reaction will tell you whether you can HAVE IT or NOT HAVE IT.
The next time you observe something about your partner or spouse that’s a tad hard to experience easily, stop for a moment.
See if instead you can just BE THERE and EXPERIENCE IT.
The cogwheels in your mind might grind to a halt because what you wish to see and what you see are different. Your brain might blow a fuse because OMG she cut her hair.
But if you cannot change your own reaction or experience of what is in front of you, good, bad, or ugly, you will slowly individuate and separate and that spiritual distance will creep in.
And that fissure only gets bigger.
Shift gears and change your viewpoint.
It’s actually easier than driving.
Once you can just BE THERE with your partner, truly be there and experience them, you open the door to real communication.
And you might just find he or she is still that lovable person that you first fell in love with, and bathing suits and bellies are just not bigger than that.
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