Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Mature Relationship

I believe that marriage is a three stage process: Infatuation, Difference and The Mature Relationship.
During infatuation, you both get all your needs met, without having to ask. I think of this as the sampler - you get to actually experience all that is available to you with this person.
It ends when you start to have to ask for what you need. That begins the Difference Stage. If done with the skills available through Teamwork Marriage Mediation, you quickly learn how to negotiate with each other and get the benefit of these differences you brought into your life because you needed them.
If you do it the way most people do, stage two feels more like the Conflict Stage.
Either way you do it, if your relationship survives, you get to stage three: The Mature Relationship. In some ways, it's exactly like the Infatuation Stage, except this time it's real. It's flexible, because both of you can talk about what you need, and negotiate ways to meet both your needs.
So how to say describe this stage, besides "like before only better?"

What comes to mind is that it is like the year or so that I kept the Sabbath according to the Jewish practice.
It often seems like the work week is your Life. Then you choose you take a break from all that, for 24 hours.

After a while, for me it flipped. Suddenly Shabbos became Life. It was like one of those optical illusions where the ground and subject switch and instead of a line drawing of a vase, you see two faces looking at each other in outline.

The silent background of peace is like a blank sheet of paper and the busyness and "to-do" lists are just the words we write on that perfect paper. After a while, if you get really good at it, each time you lift the pen, even during the work week, the peace shines through. So even just lifting it to dot an "I" or cross a "t" gives you a little, mini, Shabbos.

Right relationship is just like that.
Once you've started fighting, the other person shifts from Shabbos, the safe base, into another part of the work-week, stress. And the part of you that longs for rest in another's arms turns against you and blames them for not being the right arms.

So the second stage, the difference stage, where you take back your projections, and relax into the simple truth of your longings and desires, unhooks your other from the trappings of the stress. They float free again. "Hum, I wonder who that is?" you get to ask again. Your curiosity is reignited. And your desire.

Inviting another person into that Shalom, is phase three. 
The teacher in my first class was another butch, drill sargent, and she held her hand up to me in a "stop" motion as she went on with her tirade to the unwashed masses of her class: "Don't chump these speakers," she shouted, "They have jobs! I have a job, your other teachers have jobs! Here's your chance to learn about jobs!"

Then, her sermon done, she rushed out of the room without a word. In my mind's eye, I assumed to get a smoke and wash it down with bourbon.

The class, frozen in an artificial silence of jundgment, all eyes on me like deer caught in headlights (or was it like lions catching the scent of prey) turned to me.

I walked slowly to the front of the room and said, "You're not gonna chump me, are you? I don't quite know what it means, but I don't think I'd like it." They all let out a sigh of relief, and giggled. I wasn't going to be a problem. This might be fun.

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