October 2015 issue: Is your marriage on autopilot?

Sometimes the wall between the couple seems insurmountable; their problems seem impossible to solve. But no problem is unsolvable, if only we stop looking for answers outside and turn within

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American actress and novelist Ilka Chase must have had a terrific sense of humour. Soon after she parted ways with her husband Louis Calhern, she found a package of visiting cards bearing the title “Mrs Louis Calhern”. Rather than see them wasted, Ilka got them wrapped and mailed the package to her now ex-husband’s new wife Julia Hoyt. Along with the package she sent a note: “Dear Julia,” it read, “I hope these reach you in time.”

Though this funny anecdote is from the early part of the 20th century, it reveals a not-so-happy phenomenon of short-lived marriages that is just as widespread today as it was then. Two people fall in love, feel a sense of completeness, get married, and soon discover that their fairy tale story was just their imagination. Each partner blames the other for the collapse of the relationship, missing the point absolutely. Best-selling author Gary Zukav explains this saying, “The collapse of a romantic attraction begins when you realise your saviour cannot deliver, and your anxieties, fears, resentments and self-doubts return. Then you begin the search for salvation all over again.” The inherent problem then lies in looking for salvation through a relationship instead of using it to learn about the self and grow as a person.

The divorce rates in India, though lower than the rest of the world, have increased manifold in the recent years. Even those couples who stay in the marriage are often not in it consciously. They are sifting mindlessly through their lives together, harbouring all kinds of erroneous notions about their respective partners. Sometimes the wall between the couple seems insurmountable; their problems seem impossible to solve. But no problem is unsolvable, if only we stop looking for answers outside and turn within. And this is exactly what Wayne C Allen helps us do in this month’s lead story.

Drawing upon his experience as a psychotherapist, he helps us to detect the flaws in the way we relate. He then introduces the idea of using mindfulness to relate, a perspective that is at once fresh and intuitive, helping us understand what we really want from our relationships.

This feature is unlike most others in that it’s participative. I liken it to a mini-workshop where he introduces his Communication Model. Plus, there are plenty of exercises that you can do right away. These are interspersed with gems of wisdom such as, “For now until forever, speak always and only for yourself. This means owning your judgements, speaking your truths by saying, ‘This is what I believe,’ and asking your partner for clarification for pretty much everything they say or do.” What Wayne does is make you think for yourself and, in doing so, makes you realise that your happiness is in your hands. Your relationships then become an opportunity to share that joy and learn about yourself.

Award-winning author Dave Meurer says, “A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.” So that’s the heart of the matter. I’d say let your differences help you grow while you love each other even more.

Read the full story here.

Manoj Khatri
Manoj Khatri is a highly experienced wellbeing consultant. He is also a writer-editor and has written on topics ranging from strategic marketing and business management to art, culture and even philosophy. His more than 1250 published stories—articles, interviews, full-length features—have appeared in some of the leading newspapers and magazines of India. A certified cognitive behavioural therapist, he works as a personal counsellor too. He is the author of What a thought!, a critically acclaimed self-improvement book based on powerful ideas of some of the greatest thought leaders. Manoj runs Complete Wellbeing and believes that "peace begins with me".


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