What can a dog park teach us about bridging great societal divides? Brilliant talk. I cannot think of a more appropriate time in our lives to hear this message. There is a difference between US AND THEM and US VS THEM. We all can go beyond our own identities and ‘packs’ to find common ground with those we may disagree with on personal, work-related, social and political grounds. We are all humans after all – this human identity is common to us all…
“Marriage is ugly, you see the absolute worst in someone. You see them when they’re mad, sad, being stubborn, when they’re so unlovable they make you scream. But you also get to see them when they are laughing so hard that tears run down their face, and they can’t help but let out those weird gurgling noises. You see them at 3am when the world is asleep except you two, and you’re eating in the middle of the kitchen floor. You get to see the side of them that no one else does, and it’s not always pretty. Its snorting while laughing, its the tears when it feels like its all crashing down, its the farting, its the bedhead and bad breath, its the random dances, its the anger and the joy. Marriage isn’t a beautiful thing, but it is amazing. It’s knowing that someone loves you so much, and won’t leave you even though you said something nasty. It’s having someone have your back no matter what. Its fights over stupid things, like someone not doing the dishes or picking up after themselves. And it’s those nights you fall asleep in each others arms, feeling like there will never be enough time with them. It’s cleaning up their throw up, or just rubbing their back when they’re sick. It’s the dirtiest, hardest, most rewarding job there is. Because at the end of the day you get to crawl into bed with your best friend, the weirdest, most annoying, loving, goofy, perfect person that you know. Marriage is not beautiful, but it’s one heaven of a ride.”
All marriages have ups and downs. Relationship journey is not a straight line yet one that zigs and zags and has numerous curves. Sometimes it feels like it goes backwards and forwards all the time. You might be:
- Feeling very close and intimate sometimes – then distant and disconnected other times
- Communicating in ways that you feel heard, accepted and supported sometimes and other times communicating in a blaming and harsh manner where you feel unheard, rejected and disrespected
- Resolving differences and conflicts effectively sometimes while other times your efforts seem to make matters worse resulting in ongoing disagreements and conflict
- Having satisfying, passionate and intimate sex sometimes while other times it feels rote, mundane and boring
- Sharing joy, laughter and fun while other times you are pushing each other’s buttons
- Experiencing times of calm and ease with one another which may be suddenly interrupted by an intense explosive fight leaving you confused and shocked and wondering “where’d that come from”
- Gazing at your partner and having the conviction that you are with your soul mate and other times wondering “who is this person and how did I end up with him/her”
- Agreeing on lifestyle and financial needs and wants compared to strongly disagreeing about these things.
- Wanting to spend as much time with your partner as possible and other times wanting to be alone or with friends, or maybe even wanting to be as far away from you partner as possible.
Perhaps you can think about these ups and downs and curves in the following way. Sometimes when you go on a trip you get directly to your destination with ease in a timely manner. The trip and the roads you take are as smooth as can be. Other times you go on a trip and you have to negotiate bumpy roads filled with potholes and/or inclement weather and/or you are re-routed due to construction and/or you get stuck in long tedious traffic delays… Travel, and life, is inconsistent and uncertain. Relationships are surely like this too.
How to Manage Ups and Downs in Your Relationship?
- Understand that ups and downs and fluctuations are normal and know that they are surely going to happen
- Be patient, kind and compassionate with yourself and your partner as you navigate the changes and curves
- Look back to where you were and where you are now in terms of growth
- Address concerns and issues as they arise to thwart building resentments
- Communicate regularly with openness and honesty
- Seek input and advice from friends or an experienced professional to help you see things objectively
- Take responsibility for your part in the strengths and weaknesses of the relationship
- Allow yourself to feel your feelings—your grief, relief, sadness, joy, sorrow, loneliness and anger
“You remember the cowardly lion from The Wizard of Oz don’t you? He was supposed to be the king of the jungle but he had no courage.
Sadly, I see this missing in much leadership today. Let’s face it. Leading others is hard. There is often loneliness to leadership. Leadership takes great courage.
Here are some characteristics of cowardly leadership:
1. Says “I’ll think about it” rather than “No”…even when no is already the decided answer…
2. Avoids conflict…even when it is necessary for the good of relationships and the organization…
3. Never willing to make the hard decisions…
4. Pretends everything is okay…even when it’s not…
5. Bails on the team when things become difficult…”
What would you add to this list?
“We don’t need a melting pot…, folks. We need a salad bowl. In a salad bowl, you put in the different things. You want the vegetables – the lettuce, the cucumbers, the onions, the green peppers – to maintain their identity. You appreciate differences.”
“My first exposure to murder,” the Nobel-winning economist Amartya Sen writes in “Identity and Violence” “occurred when I was 11.” It was 1944, a few years before the end of the British Raj and a period of widespread Hindu-Muslim riots. The victim was “a profusely bleeding unknown person suddenly stumbling through the gate to our garden, asking for help and a little water.” Rushed to the hospital by Sen’s father, the man died there of his injuries. He was Kader Mia, a Muslim day laborer knifed by Hindus. He had been asked by his wife not to go into a hostile area of then-undivided Bengal. But he had to feed his starving family, and he paid with his life.
To the young Sen, this event was not just traumatic but mystifying. How was it, Sen asks …, that “… human beings … were suddenly transformed into the ruthless Hindus and fierce Muslims…”? And how was it that Kader Mia would be seen as having only one identity — that of being Muslim — by Hindus who were, like him, out in the unprotected open because they too were starving? “For a bewildered child,” Sen remembers, “the violence of identity was extraordinarily hard to grasp.” And, he confesses, “it is not particularly easy even for a still bewildered elderly adult.”
In his book “Identity and Violence” Amartya Sentakes aims at what he calls the ” ‘solitarist’ approach to human identity, which sees human beings as members of exactly one group.” This view, he argues, is not just morally undesirable, but descriptively wrong. Instead, Sen invokes the myriad identities within each individual. The people of the world can be classified according to many other partitions, each of which has some—often far-reaching—relevance in our lives: nationalities, locations, occupations, social status, languages, politics, and many others, including identity common to all – HUMANS. Because all of us contain multitudes, we can choose among our identities, emphasizing those we share with others rather than those we do not.
Let’s focus on our shared identities and appreciate differences for peace around the world.
* * *
Was it easier for you to accept the differences between the women in the video below, once you saw their shared identity?
“It’s a funny game, chess. Like a Mandelbrot set, there’s more to it than meets the eye – the more you look at a chess as a game, the more it really gets into your soul…
The world is, essentially, black and white. Right and wrong. Truth or lie. Do or die. For the pieces that reside in the world of chess experience this stark dichotomy on a daily basis. Their world, such as it is, allows for only restricted movement. They have no real freedoms at all…
Each of the players in life’s little game has their role, as in real life. From the menial, toilet-bowl washers through to the “do nothing but sit around and look magnificent” top tier of life, all facets of class system are there. As in life, the pieces are more or less defined by what they do. “You’re a doctor? Awesome… settle a bet – is this a boil or a mozzie bite?” – likewise each piece on a chess board is effectively hamstrung, their career chosen at birth and with little chance of respite from the gruelling daily grind…
It’s a damning indictment on the state of the world when you consider this fact: The most populous piece on the board is also the weakest. Like the serfs and peons of eras gone by, the fact that there are 16 of the so-called ‘little people’ on the world at the beginning of any match should supply some glimmer of hope – the most precious gift in the world – to the pawns. But they are not the sum of their parts. Repressed and homogenous, they simply exist to do the dirty work, and to die quietly with as much dignity as they can muster….
Ahhh… the safety and security of bricks and mortar are the lesson to be learned here. How solid and dependable are the rooks? They occupy and guard the outer edges of the world, keeping the other players safe from invading paws of curious kittens and insurgencies of spilt beverages. But how high is the price of such security?
I’ll tell you – it’s a terrible toll. Severely restricted movement, and a mindset programmed to think in unbending lines…
By immediate comparison comes the Knight, a piece with a wonderfully British outlook atop the chequered arena. It’s movements appear eratic, but are – in fact – carefully thought out in advance, taking into account the dual notions of sense of purpose and unpredictability. They like to give the impression that they might, if pushed, be a rogue state. Their wild nature is characterised by the brumby-like physical representation, which in itself speaks volumes.
But… and there’s always a but… on their own, they are all but useless. Any successful hostile action requires the recipient of violence to be backed, literally, into a corner with all avenues of escape cut off.
And then in rides the cavalry, to take the glory and claim the victory as their own. It’s typical, if you ask me… the horsey set always likes to think of itself as punching well above its social weight. When they’re not prancing about the board of life, you’ll find the Knights playing polo and drinking champagne…
Imagine a life where you are confined in your thinking to a single shade. Black or white, once you are placed in your initial position, that’s it – you may not ever occupy a square of the other shade. You must only believe in the one thing, forever more, until you are killed or the war is won.
It’s a damning indictment upon life off-board – where religious views are expounded upon at length, but rarely scrutinised and never challenged. As with any belief that is set in stone, it invariably ends in tears – it’s okay to have convictions and a strong set of moral values, but without wriggle room, it’s easy to end up trapped. If you cannot see the other side of an argument, you are doomed to lose.
The other telling point about the Bishops is that they do not move in a straight line – not in the classical sense. They’re sneaky, often arriving unexpectedly from the far side of the world to wreak violence and brutality upon those least expecting it. All of this from a man of the cloth? It’s wrong… but it’s the way of the world….
The Queen is the most honestly representative piece on the board, in terms of power, gender politics and potential capabilities. As a female, the Queen is the sole representative of women. As in the real world, women are horrendously under-represented in the upper echelons of power. This is, of course, coupled with the obvious glass ceiling – the Queen can never become the King, as the King never dies. Add to that the constant threat that one of the pawns may indeed reach the far rank of the board, and suddenly the Queen has another contender for the favours of the King. It’s horrible… and an eerily accurate reflection of the real world…
Bloated, corpulent and lazy, the King is a figurehead – a lumbering dinosaur whose only relevance to the world at large is to simply be. Without him, all is lost – but his presence serves only to provide purpose to the lives of others, who must live and die to protect him.
On many levels, I’m sure the other pieces have grown to hate the King. The King is little more than a chubby dictator – his whims to be observed, his life sacrosanct…
It’s obvious to even the most casual observer that chess is indeed a game – one that has its roots in the violence of conquest and its complexities founded in the notion of human interaction. But at the end of the day it is – just like the life and universe it mirrors – just a game. It’s unbalanced and bigoted, often violent and strangely bleak… and that’s the way we seem to like it. “
From The Politics of Chess by Gregor Stronach
There is a poem by Jack Gilbert. The opening line is “Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.” The reference is the Greek story of Icarus whose father made him wings of wax and warned him to not fly too close to the sun or the wings would melt. In his youthful enthusiasm Icarus got too close to the sun, his wings melted and he drowned in the sea.
The rest of the poem is about Gilbert’s marriage – how people thought it would never last, his memories of times with his wife at the beach, in Paris, and that they eventually divorced. The closing lines of the poem are, “Icarus didn’t fail when he fell; he just reached the end of his triumph.”
As Robert Taibb points out, divorce can so easily feel like failure but it is also about triumph – that you both have helped each other to grow and change over the years, to be a different person than when you both started, and now you have merely reached the end. Your roads have divided. It is time for change, a new chapter.
From Different Paths
This post is not meant to encourage those struggling in a weakened marriage to pull the plug. If there are children in the family, personally I would do my best to maintain marriage unless it gets to a state, when divorce is unavoidable. If marriage gets to that state, divorce can not only start a new chapter in life, but can also heal ‘old’ wounds. I have experienced that with my own parents, who got divorced when I was in my teens after almost a decade of constant fights.
My parents always claimed that they stayed together for as long as they possibly could for the sake of us, their children. Too long and too late for us, as their troubled relationship with constant fights brought more damage to us than divorce. Both me and my brother felt a huge relief when it was all over.
To our surprise, our parent’s relationship improved dramatically after their divorce. First of all, they started talking to each other. And I mean talking, without shouting at the top of the lungs or blaming each other for all sorts of things. They started helping each other occasionally too. A few years later mum even dropped a few tears, remembering how wonderful my dad was when they got married. That came as a total surprise to me, as I’ve never heard her saying anything positive about him during their life together.
From The Letters
However don’t perceive divorce as an easy way out of hard-to-manage marriage. As Robert Taibb points out, the most difficult about divorce is the need to do well what was hard to do during the marriage – communicate well, consider the other person’s needs, keep your focus on what is best for the children rather than using them as battle grounds for power struggles or forums for dealing with your own grief and loss. While you may have different styles, you need to agree on the same bottom lines.
Most of all take care of yourself – like it or not you are a model for your children on taking risks, the courage of taking charge of your life, managing life changes while staying positive and well-balanced. If you are okay, so too will be your children.
Keep in mind what Gilbert said: You didn’t fail, you just reached the end of your triumph…
Failing and Flying
by Jack Gilbert
Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It’s the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph…
From Glory of Icarus
“The course of true love never did run smooth.”
( William Shakespeare, 1564-1616 )
As Chuck Palahniuk once said, “It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.”
It is time to break that pattern, it is time to get free from its chains. Try focusing on the sweet side to ease the pain.
1. Talk about your marriage. This seems like an obvious tip on how to make a relationship last, but it’s surprisingly difficult to talk about your relationship! Talking about your relationship can make it better – even if you don’t solve your problems immediately. Just talking about your marriage brings you closer together. Or, it can help you realize that you may not want to save your marriage after all.
2. Recognize when you’re pulling away emotionally and physically. Recognize when you’re pulling away and do the exact opposite. So, instead of retreating to your shell, tell your partner why you’re retreating. No blame or guilt trips: just honesty.
3. Be honest with your partner about how to make your relationship last. Decide together if marriage counseling will help your relationship last a long time. Couples therapy is an effective way of building better relationships if both partners are committed. One partner can’t save a marriage alone. When you’re in the thick of things, you can’t see if you or your partner is being unreasonable (usually, it’s a little of both). An objective third party — a marriage or couples counselor — can help you make your marriage work by bridging communication gaps and helping you see your marriage clearly.
4. Figure out what you need from your relationship. To build a better marriage, each partner needs to be clear about their hopes and expectations.
5. Decide what you can give to your relationship. Perhaps the best tip on making a relationship last is about what you can give to your marriage (not necessarily what you can get). A secret of happy couples is to be clear about your needs, but it’s equally or perhaps more important to figure out where you’re dropping the ball. How can you build a better marriage by improving yourself?
6. Learn how to argue in healthy ways. Building a better relationship with your spouse means you need to stop blaming, criticizing, or belittling your partner. Regardless of how your husband or wife treats you, you need to communicate with love and respect. You can’t change your partner, but you can change how you respond to her or him. As Ann Landers once said, “All married couples should learn the art of battle as they should learn the art of making love. Good battle is objective and honest. Good arguments are healthy and constructive, and brings to a marriage the principle of equal partnership.”
And no matter how angry we are, lets never stop being caring.
From Funi Pics
Lets leave all the grudges in the old 2013 year and commit to making the New Year sweeter than the past.
Have a peaceful and happy New Year. 🙂
From Images List
- Marriage is a relationship in which…
- Responsible Parenting: Happy Parents = Happy Children
- Mythbusting marriage and romance
- The most romantic love story…
- The course of true love never did run smooth…
- Cracking the Communication Code Between Men And Women
- Developing Emotional Sensitivity