Last week we were looking at the possible interventions that Manoj and Riya could undertake so that they could improve their marital relationship.
It is often important to process the negative experiences – to talk them through, resolve them, understand each other’s stance and seek forgiveness. The deepest bond comes out of such a mutual understanding. You minimize the psychic scarring. You have to work to overcome your negative tendencies and gradually unfreeze the labels that have weakened the basic structure. It is likely that in the course of the rebuilding process, there will be some incidents that will hurt either one of you. It is all right to be hurt, but do not choose to act on that hurt by getting back, getting even, walking our, complaining or judging the other spouse. If the hurt is caused unintentionally, choose to forgive and make reconciliation. You will require a tremendous personal security to be able to shield from hurts and not react back. Never let that hurt keep you from interacting with one another, or weaken the marital bond that is providing so much strength and support. After a certain level of trust has been established, the most important task is to be able to develop a communication tool that enables you to listen to what the other person is not only saying but meaning too. It is to develop a method where you can see the other person’s frame of reference. You need to develop the technique of empathic communication. This will help you build trust and the negative energy will diminish as trust goes up. If the trust is high, you can be extremely candid and efficient with each other. If it is shaky, then the other person may be wary of opening up. Focus primarily on the meaning, the feeling and the emotion than on the content or the words that is said. The quality in a relationship is the most important part of it and quality requires constant attention because of the expectation that one should be emotionally nurtured and supported. There is often a tendency to take loved ones for granted and address strangers better. Curb that. In your communication take care to see that the context of what you said is what you intend. You understand the context of the relationship and not just of the communication-taking place. Emotional energy will drive you into sensitive subjects and if you are not careful, it can cause bad feelings and further defensiveness. Another important factor is to be very sincere about your intentions. If there is manipulation and insincerity, the other person will feel used. When you are truthful, the other person may not go along, but at least you have been forthright. Your straightforward, simple honesty will be better than duplicity, which baffles the other partner. Sometimes the other person may not open up. Even then, keep your patience. Read the non-verbal cues. Notice the body and face language, tone and context. Do not force the conversation. Sometimes total silence is the most understanding response. One technique of problem solving that you can employ is to bring a problem to the discussion board every day. Each partner can take turns for the responsibility of the solution. You might that one of you dominates the conversation and the feelings of the other gradually begin to go inside, where they remain bottled up and unexpressed. These unexpressed feelings never die. They are buried alive and come forth in violent verbal or physical expressions, in extreme statements or judgments or in simply acting out. So, make sure that both partners contribute equally. When both know that they can express everything, things are relaxing. No one is impatient and over reactive and this dissipates negative energy and helps you both develop internal patience and self- control. You could also try the technique of role-playing. This often helps the other person to have an insight into the difficulties of the situation and understand better what cannot be conveyed in words. When you do this, you also realize that by the time you return to your original position, your feelings have actually changed. Much of the wind has been taken out of the sails when you see the other person in a difficult position you have experienced through the role-play. You are able to talk without getting into blaming and accusing. This makes a solution easier. It is difficult the first time around as you have to get out of your conditioning and autobiographical responses. As you do this more often, it becomes easier. Sometimes there are intense feelings and deep issues involved, but ultimately it helps. You decide to get out of the made-up mindsets and the fighting attitude. The last point is about congruent behavior. If you are unaware of what you are feeling inside, you are incongruent within. You will have a tendency to intellectualize, compartmentalize or unknowingly project your own motives on others. This internal incongruency is sensed by the other person and this contributes to an inauthentic communication that is superficial and boring. If you are internally congruent – aware of your feelings but deny it or try to act or express otherwise, this external incongruency shows insincerity or hypocrisy. Both these forms of incongruency undermine communication and that is why a great deal of interior work must be done by both of you – to grow in self-awareness and to have the courage to authentically express what you are feeling and thinking inside. Level with each other and speak the truth – whether it is with respect and tact or with forcefulness and sharpness. There are times when really loving your spouse means giving him/her a shock – into an awareness of what is really happening and then showing more love afterwards so that they know you really care. These interventions are designed to help bridge the gap that has come in the relationship and help a rebuilding process.