Some people ask if The Work advocates passive acceptance of one’s relationship, however bad it is. I tell them that The Work doesn’t advocate anything. How can it? It’s just four questions and a turnaround. It’s sometimes hard for people to hear this. “If I love my partner just as he is,” they say, “doesn’t this mean accepting his flaws and staying with him? Why should I put up with him? What if he really is flawed?” What an interesting question this is. Let’s take a look. ”He’s so inconsiderate: he tracks mud into the house, he sits on my freshly made bed to tie his shoes in his dirty work pants, he doesn’t hear what I say because he’s focused on the football game.” ”She snores.”"She doesn’t do it right.”"He threw the whites in the washing machine with the red socks and now the whites are forever pink.” “She stopped exercising and gained weight: just look at her in that tight dress!” “He’s heading out the door on the way to a job interview all dressed up and with dried egg in his beard.” Why do these things happen? It may not be clear at first. But if you take a minute, you’ll discover that they’re wonderful ways of bringing us closer together. Not if you’re passive, though. This is about your own empowerment, your ability to see things as they really are, through the eyes of love. When you do The Work on your partner, you realize that all your problems are coming from you, because it’s your thoughts that are telling you who he is. If you see him as flawed in any way, you can be sure that you’ve found a place where you’re arguing with reality in that moment and are blind to yourself. (One way to find such places is to notice where you feel most righteous and justified in your attack.) Go back to the source; go to yourself. Let’s look at the husband with egg in his beard. You can see him in two ways. First, when you think he’s flawed: “Oh God, there he goes with egg in his beard! Hey, stop! You have egg in your beard! What a slob! I don’t know what you’re thinking of wash it off! Hurry, you’re late! Here, let me do that, you’ve had your chance. Why do I have to point these things out to you? They’ll never give you that job. You can be so frustrating-why did I even marry you? No, stop it, I don’t want to kiss you. Just leave me alone and get out of here.”
The other way is when you know that being flawed is simply not possible: “He’s going out the door with egg in his beard. That is so funny-he must be in a big rush, to have missed something so obvious. I’ll wipe the egg off for him as I notice a few of the reasons this happened for us, or at least for me. It happened so that I could see his beard in time to save the day, of course. So that we could laugh together as we imagine what the job interview could have looked like with egg in his beard. I get to wipe off the egg for him, and that is warm and dear and funny and intimate. I didn’t think I had time to kiss him goodbye and the dried egg made it possible. (Interesting how time opens up when you think there’s no time.) And I get the credit for his new job!”
“I’m Sick and TIred of Living with His Flaw”-An Inquiry
My husband is always late. It has been an issue for him since childhood. He agrees, his mother agrees, I agree-and it’s driving me nuts. He’s uncaring, inconsiderate, undependable, inept, and a poor example for our children. I’m just sick and tired of living with someone who doesn’t care enough to change. Okay. Suppose you’re right. What can you do? You’ve been trying to get him to change for twenty years, and it hasn’t worked. How about questioning these things in your own mind? After all, you’re the one who is miserable. “He’s always late”-turn it around.
But I’m never late. This turnaround doesn’t work. Is that true? Can you think of three times in your life when you’ve been late? You might find them in areas that aren’t the same as his. Well, I was what they call a “late bloomer”-I was very slow at school. Later on I turned out to excel at music and mathematics.
What was that like? It was awful when my parents and teachers got on my case about being so slow. I always knew I’d get there eventually, but they didn’t. I think their judgments about me slowed me down, I was so ashamed. Any other ways? I don’t always pay our bills on time.
One more? Once or twice I’ve put things off to the last minute and it causes a lot of anxiety in me and I have to rush the others to compensate. ”He is uncaring, inconsiderate, a poor example for our children”-how might you turn that around? I’m inconsiderate when I yell at him about being late; I don’t really care about him in those moments. And I don’t consider how that makes him feel. And it is a poor example to our children when they see that I deal with the situation by yelling at someone I love. And no wonder you’re sick and tired of living with someone who doesn’t care enough to change. That person is you. And there’s no release or escape from yourself until you leave him alone and focus on your own turnarounds. Changing him will no longer be your life’s work. You can be your life’s work. You’re the one who believes in change.
I just can’t imagine how I could deal with his lateness differently. His lateness is his business. You might just take care of your own. For instance, you could stop waiting for him to be on time. Let’s think of a worst-case situation. What’s the worst thing you can imagine his being late for? Our only daughter is getting married this June, and he’s supposed to be giving her away. If he’s late for the wedding, I don’t know what I’ll do.
Let’s try it out. You play the role of your daughter on her wedding day, and her father is late. I’ll be the honest wife who loves him unconditionally, I’ll be you. He’s running late, and we’re at the wedding. [Katie speaking as mother] Hi, honey. What a wonderful day to get married! You look beautiful.
[Mother speaking as daughter] Where’s Dad? Oh, he’s running late, sweetheart.
What do you mean? It is time to start now! I know it. What do you suggest? I could walk you down the aisle if you like.
Don’t be ridiculous, Mom! Couldn’t you do anything with him?
No, honey. I just know that he’s doing the best that he can. I offered to help and he said to leave him alone.
And what did you do? I honored what he wanted, of course.
Mom, that was so the wrong thing to do. You should have pushed him. It’s my wedding! Oh God, now he won’t make it! It’s all your fault!
I hear that, sweetheart, and what can we do to make it right at this point? You look so beautiful, even though a little panicked. Well, I’m desperate! Okay, will you walk me down the aisle, Yes, honey. It would be an honor. Is it okay if I cry? What for, Mom? I’ve never been so grateful as this for your father’s lateness. I get to walk my daughter down the aisle! I love you both so much that I could just pop! Mom, you’re the greatest! Oh, there he is now! Dad! Hurry!
What a story, honey! How could we ever believe that he’d be late at all? How could we believe that “late” is even possible? He’s obviously coming at the perfect time. Now I get to sit and watch the wedding of my daughter’s dreams, with her father giving her away, and nothing could be better than that.
Look at what you imagine is a flaw in your partner, and notice the ways that it gives you an opportunity to appreciate him or her. If you can’t find these ways, you’ll eventually have to strike out in anger-or you may just become frustrated at your lack of progress and attack yourself and her mentally. These attacks that you experience along the way are simply areas that need to be questioned, that’s all. If the ways become obvious, you’ll grow and grow into love without limit.
A Really Bad Relationship-with Whom?
The Work is never passive, though its results are always peaceful. Sometimes you may find yourself in a relationship with someone who is angry, hurtful, physically aggressive, or unkind toward himself, someone who projects his thoughts onto you and really believes that you are the cause of his suffering. Get out of the relationship, by all means, if that’s what seems right to you. A bad relationship is a different story with the same answer: Ask yourself.
If I live with someone who projects his thoughts onto me to the point that my body is bruised or broken, I need to question my beliefs. I need to question the thoughts that have frightened me into staying. And I need to question statements like “He shouldn’t hit me or shout at me or withhold from me” and turn them around: “I shouldn’t hit me, using his hands to do it. I shouldn’t shout at me in my mind. I shouldn’t withhold (happiness) from me.” Is that as true or truer? And if it is, how might I live these turnarounds? You mayor may not be willing to put up with your partner’s apparent flaws. Whether you stay in or leave a relationship, there are always two ways to do it. One way is in peace, with love; the other is at war, with anger and blame. If you want to be in peace, judge your partner, write it down, ask four questions, and turn it around. Clearly see that his flaws are flaws in your own vision. Then let the decision make itself. It always happens right on time, and not one second before. I am devoting the rest of this chapter to the following conversation with a woman from Amsterdam because it’s a perfect example of how someone can believe a thought so thoroughly that it seems like a fact. This woman was absolutely convinced that her husband was terminally uncommunicative and that she was going to leave him. But when she inquired into these apparent facts, they turned out to be just two more unquestioned thoughts. Welcome, sweetheart. Let’s hear what you’ve written. I wrote about my marriage because I’m going to leave my husband, and Ifeel a lot of guilt about it.
“You’re going to leave him”-is that true? Yes.
Leaving or Staying, in Peace
Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
You mayor may not be willing to put up with your partner’s apparent flaws. Whether you stay in or leave a relationship, there are always two ways to do it. One way is in peace, with love; the other is at war, with anger and blame. If you want to be in peace, judge your partner, write it down, ask four questions, and turn it around. Clearly see that his flaws are flaws in your own vision. Then let the decision make itself. It always happens right on time, and not one second before. I am devoting the rest of this chapter to the following conversation with a woman from Amsterdam because it’s a perfect example of how someone can believe a thought so thoroughly that it seems like a fact. This woman was absolutely convinced that her husband was terminally uncommunicative and that she was going to leave him. But when she inquired into these apparent facts, they turned out to be just two more unquestioned thoughts.
By : Fran Homesa – firstname.lastname@example.org