In every relationship there is a mixture of satisfaction and frustration. When we satisfy one another, life is enjoyable, we make each other feel good about oneself, each other and the relationship, – we blossom.
But what do we do when we frustrate each other?
No matter how close two people are, there will always be differences. Both have a different biography, different life experiences, different temperaments, different needs and preferences. In situations where we want our partner to be the same, feel the same or to live up to our expectations, frustrations happen.
One way of dealing with frustrations is to suppress our needs and feelings, to go along with our partner as a way of preventing conflicts. This is possible but not a long term option. Sooner or later, if we don’t want to give ourselves up completely or diminish the relationship, we need to face the conflict that comes with difference.
A common difference between men and women we observe is in dealing with emotions. While women want simply be held and acknowledged when they feel miserable, unhappy or sad, men feel the need to fix it. They offer questions in search for reasons and give advice. Men derive their sense of purpose by finding solutions. Their focus is on doing. The woman’s focus is on being. She just wants him to be with her, possibly hold her reassuringly without trying to change her. His attempt to make it better is experienced as “there is something wrong with me”, as a lack of acceptance which reinforces the woman’s “misery”. At this point she may withdraw feeling unloved and unwanted which increases then his feelings of frustration and inadequacy.
Both respond with fear which is expressed in arguments, quarrels, making each other wrong, blaming the other or oneself, or other forms of controlling behaviour. The more frightened we are, the more we need to control. When we find ourselves at this place we may want to ask ourselves, “what am I frightened of? Where did I get stuck?” At that point we soften. As we meet our fear with acceptance, we embrace it with love. The coldness of fear can only warm up when embraced with the acceptance of love.
Making love bigger than fear means also to look for the love in a person’s action. The man who tries to make it better for a woman acts out of love as well as ignorance. The woman who keeps quiet not to upset her partner acts out of love, even though it may not be what he wants. It is helpful to find the good intention in a person’s behaviour. It is particularly helpful if both partners can do that. This increases the good will in a relationship which can help overcome day to day conflicts. Then problems turn into challenges that bring with themselves opportunities to learn. All is well when we make love bigger than fear.
Mirjam Busch & Rudolf Jarosewitsch
Copyright © 3/1999 by Rumijabu | Originally published in Southshore Beacon #104, Mar1999