A perfect pair

a man and his dogs
A cute pair of dogs waiting outside the grocery store with their person

One morning right after Jack and I had gotten married, I was sitting at the table writing out affirmations. My list went something like this: “Everything that I need is here now. All is well. Love is the only reality. There is no reality in lack.” I left my list on the table and went out for the day. When I returned home, Jack was sitting at that same table looking fairly distressed. He didn’t really want to talk about it, but I pushed him and he finally said (in a forlorn tone), “I found what you wrote today”,  like this was supposed to explain his mood. “Yes?” is what I’m sure I said, and the next part is crystal clear, he looked at me with such distress and said, “What does, ‘There is no reality in Jack’, mean?”

I cracked up at that. I do have terrible handwriting but my L and my J don’t even look similar.

Then we both laughed and Jack looked like the weight of the world had been lifted from him, but this always made me think “What would’ve happened if he hadn’t been honest about what was bothering him? What if I hadn’t pushed him to tell me what was wrong?”

Jack isn’t a person who naturally wants to discuss emotionally charged subjects. I, on the other hand, want to talk about everything. We make a good pair, not because we approach life in a similar fashion, or because we find it so easy and pleasant to communicate. Often, it has been frustrating for us to have to work so hard at a harmonious relationship. We both came to this relationship guarded and defensive, although neither of us would have admitted it at that time. It hasn’t come naturally, but it has grown as we have grown.

And it has grown because no matter how hard at times it is, we want it more than we don’t. Dropping our defences has been huge. We were both afraid of getting hurt again, and yet we knew that if we stayed the same, we would be dooming our relationship to the same course we’d taken in the past. We still get defensive. We still have times where we’d like to retreat to what we perceived as a perfect world (pre each other)…but we don’t do it, or if we do, we don’t stay there long. We have finally come to the shocking revelation that we will always have issues to work through (within ourselves and by extension, with each other). We’ve come to see that self-love had been sorely lacking in each of us, and that lack of true love made us build walls of “protection” that needed to come down.

We’re still taking those walls (within ourselves) down. …and every time one falls, the world opens up a little more, we grow and expand, and we appreciate each other more.  The more open I become, the more open I feel toward the world (Jack included). I finally realize that I am responsible for my emotional life, and the happier I become with myself, the happier I become with the world (Jack included). It is really all about me. It really is all about you. When we change, our worlds must change too.

Defenses do not empower you. In fact, defenses are often magnets for pain. It is impossible to be defensive and radiant, defensive and fearless, defensive and open, defensive and abundant, defensive and loving. Defences tie you to your ego; they keep old wounds alive; they block healing: they affirm fear. Defences are not love. In fact, defensiveness is the refusal to give and receive love.” from the book Shift Happens! by Robert Holden Ph.D

9 thoughts on “A perfect pair”

  1. Mary, I think the title on your posting could be revised to “An Imperfect pair”….(smile)….I’ve read Robert Holden’s book as well and I think, once we’ve had a difficult experience in a relationship, we’re naturally wary and defensive and you’re right, once there is a breakthrough in our thinking, it’s like a door opening, a light coming on…the proverbial lightbulb…a shift. Keeping it there doesn’t always happen…another situation arises, the mucky old defenses come out. We can only change ourselves. It is true. And change our responses to others. Communication and respectful communication is very important and then having the patience when it’s not there for the other person. When I looked at the picture of the two dogs, I thought, there are a pair of spaniels who look to be very much loved.
    SandyP in snowy Ontario, Canada

    1. Now, see, Sandy . . . I look at the picture of those two dogs and resent the fact that they’re looking so much more stylish, pulled together and well-groomed than I am at the moment. I’m trying to excuse myself with the thought that I’m only going to Home Depot . . . but they were only going to the grocery store! Where’s my mascara . . .

      1. Those spaniels, Jill, were better dressed than I to-day, as well. I set out up the line to visit a friend this morning, her dog loves me, I’m the bisquit lady, in no time flat, I was covered in dog hair from stem to stern…bad enough I go out covered in car dirt (gravel roads around here…so I’ll compete with you for the bag-lady prize… Sandy P, in S. Ontario, Canada

  2. Another post going into my WFF folder – that quote makes me want to read the whole book, Mary. To still another person’s voice, to render them incapable of expressing their feelings calmly and fully can set patterns of repression that are very hard to unlearn. Even the body language used with another person when they are trying to tell us something personal, it’s so telling whether that person is ready to receive you or if they are setting up barriers with crossed arms, a stern countenance, or an elevated chin. Those things can shut you down in a hurry. Here’s to listening to one another with an open mind and heart, and just waiting, maybe a LONG while before replying, giving their words time to sink in and penetrate the outer layers where our defenses want to stand strong and firm, denying entry. What can it hurt to listen, give another person a chance. – Mary, the snowflakes are so beautiful as I sit here and think how lucky we have all been, going on almost 3 years, to have your light shining in our lives so many mornings, and how it warms us to respond and shine our own lights too. Love to everyone – Susan

  3. Great post and I love the quote. I’ve been feeling a little defensive lately which is not a good place to be. Merry Christmas WFF!

  4. For me it was really a lack of commitment that threatened to jeopardize my relationship with my husband. It took years for me to realize that I hadn’t fully invested in our relationship and always had one foot out the door, metaphorically speaking. This, in itself, was a defensive response. Once I realized my lack of commitment and put myself fully into the relationship, things shifted for the better, much better. (Thirty-two years and counting:))

    Blessings to all. Thank you for your honest words, Mary.

  5. What a thought-provoking post. It’s so easy to justify our own — and others’ — defenses that it makes me really appreciate those people who don’t parade theirs in front of everyone. Mary, your sentence, “I realize that I am responsible for my emotional life,” is both frightening and empowering. I’m also holding on to Susan’s statement, “Here’s to listening to one another with an open mind and heart….” Much to think about today — thanks to everyone.

  6. Now that the string theorists have decided our universe is really just a hologram, maybe “There is no reality in Jack” . . . or Jill. Hmmmm?

  7. Mary, I so often identify with what you disclose to us about your relationship with your man. You are so real and honest and help me to stay positive and know that I am not alone.
    Happy Holidays to you and your pack! Love, Cindy

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