When you persist they resist, when you resist they persist…
One challenge that perhaps all couples identify with is being on opposing ends of a point of view. It could range from trivia to fundamental, from dressing-up styles and where to eat-out on Sunday afternoons to how to discipline children or how much to spend on what. Couples constantly negotiate for a working balance, giving-in on one front, claiming ground on another; the power balance continually shifts, the individual’s take-away can be less or more, but the family’s larger interests are rarely compromised. The domestic machinery chugs along, years turn into decades and somewhere between the 25th and 50th anniversary couples begin to see back and are confident enough to laugh on and share about how two such different people as they did last to create all that they did. It was during one such celebration that the anniversary lady shared her story in front of a close crowd of family and friends. She was celebrating her 50th anniversary.
‘If I have to give you newly weds a mantra, (which for her was any of us married for a year to 40!) it would be this understanding, ‘when you persist, he will resist, and vice-versa where he persists, you will resist.’ When two people in coupledom find themselves at contradictory stands, their first response is to be further polarized. In order to get the other to agree to their viewpoint they unwittingly inflate the merits of their stance and de-merit the other’s. And in the same wave they minimize the negatives of their perspective and undervalue the other’s positives. Once they have repeated it enough, it becomes their truth. The other does the same. He not only resists the exaggeration with an exaggerated force but in turn overstates the value of his own, while devaluing the other’s standpoint. And thus for the two, the more they persist, the more they resist! Constantly, equally, with an escalating force…
‘What if they were to pause for a moment and ask, ‘do they believe in their own hyperbole? Is it really their truth? Or perhaps they have come so far with it, that it has to be?
‘That is all that is needed. One question. ‘What if in trying to make my point I have distorted my own truth?’
The wise lady continued. ‘You know our brain is tricky in that sense. The more you say a certain thing, the more you will believe in it. The brain will carve out inroads in that very direction. The unfortunate thing is you may make something small actually big in your head and let it stay that way’.
What do you do? I asked.
‘Stop persisting. Take a step back. Let the issue resume its original proportion. Get an understanding of your own sense regarding it, without the pressure of the need to have your partner conform to your point of view. For just a while, stop the acceleration…give space, take space.
I thought of a quote by Nietzsche, ‘The weight of every burden must be reviewed afresh’.