This last week Julie and I facilitated a seminar in Shanghai for about 150 people. Interestingly, many of them were couples, which is a little unusual in China. One focus man spoke long and eloquently about how he was a traditional Chinese man and lived such values especially in his marriage. He seemed very satisfied with his life; he felt his relationship was “OK” and he was a fairly happy man. He had been married for 20 years, so we turned to his wife and asked her, over the last 10 years how happy had she been? She collapsed in tears as all her unhappiness and pain bubbled to the surface. She had certainly put a brave face on her life but basically she was desperately unhappy and had been so for quite some time.
We come together in our relationships to find happiness, as that must be our collective purpose while spending time in this world. Why else would we come together in the name of love other than to find true happiness, to recognise that our happiness lies in our relationships and primarily the relationship with our partner?
Obviously, most of us are blind to what is really happening on many many different levels, yet it is important to remember our world gives us instant feedback on what we are really doing. One of our most important sources of feedback is the happiness of our partner. Remember if our partner is failing in anyway at all we have stopped giving and sharing with them and have turned to separation, competition and being right. These are all deathblows to the happiness of any marriage or partnership. If our partner is unhappy then we are being called to change, to learn and to move towards them for the sake of our own happiness.
Basically, this change is about acknowledging that we are wrong about what we believe is right. If we are willing to surrender at deeper levels we allow what is true and important to show itself, to manifest itself in our lives. Paradoxically, the change comes not from our doing something but through our willingness to feel and learn something – to go through layer after layer of undoing, of letting our mistaken beliefs fall away.
This takes great courage but the rewards are greater as our world starts to reflect back to us its joyful nature. Remember you can either be right or be happy but you can’t be both so this is a daily choice for us all – undoing, surrender and happiness or being right, doing and power struggle.
Maybe this would be a good day to ask your partner how happy he or she is and then to have the courage to really listen to the answer and stay present with them.