Fight or flight

Joey Garcia

My wife told me she wants a divorce because she says we never argue. I like that about our relationship. I think we get along great. She says it means we’re not close enough to feel safe or be honest and talk about our real feelings. Who is right? We’ve been married for six years. I don’t want a divorce. I love my wife. Please help.

Do you avoid confrontation? A person with a nonconfrontational personality will acquiesce in situations where speaking up respectfully could lead to a resolution. It’s as if that individual believes they’re being nice or kind. But actually, as long as he or she is not in physical danger, it’s dishonest to withhold thoughts and feelings. Couples or friends who share their innermost selves, without blaming or shaming, can grow in spiritual intimacy and self-love.

It can feel scary to open up. Don’t let that stop you. The energy behind the withheld words and feelings has been leaking out and affecting your marriage. Frustration, anger or hurt doesn’t dissipate. The energy within those unspoken feelings stays coiled beneath your words and behavior. Your wife can sense the threat. So open your heart and share your most vulnerable, softest self. If your wife responds with surprise or suspicion, don’t let it derail you.

Always take a break from a disagreement that’s going nowhere. If your wife fails to take responsibility for her part in a conflict or catches you doing the same, take a break from the conversation. It helps to remember that conflict doesn’t mean that a person is bad or mean or unworthy of love.

Conflict is an opportunity to understand another person’s perspective and expand our hearts accordingly.

I can see myself marrying my girlfriend of two years except I feel like I need some time on my own to know myself and grow as a person. I’ve gone from one relationship to another—not on purpose, it’s just happened that way. This is the best relationship I’ve ever been in and honestly, the best girl I’ve ever known. I don’t know how to tell her about taking a break without her freaking out that we’re breaking up. Advice?

Being single and living solo (or spending 40 days alone on a silent retreat each year) are among the most consistent habits of the founders of the world’s religions and philosophical systems. A person who is single and lives alone learns to value time, has clear boundaries and a precise moral compass, is self-aware, level-headed, open-minded, guided by intuition, courageous, independent, emotionally strong, reliable, wise, aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, and honors their feelings without making feelings precious or sitting in drama. And he or she is frequently disliked because the combination of these qualities is threatening to the mainstream. Of course, it is possible to know yourself while being in a committed relationship. Mohammed, the founder of Islam, was married. It’s just rare because of the human tendency to confuse interdependency with codependency. So the question is: Are you running away from genuine love or answering your true spiritual call? Ω

Meditation of the week
“I think in most relationships that have problems, there’s fault on both sides. And in order for it to work, there has to be some common ground that’s shared and it’s not just one person making amends,” said actor Steve Carell. Do you respect all sides of a disagreement?

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