It can be very hard for couples to see that the other person is not responsible for their upset. I’m upset because she doesn’t want to have sex. I’m upset because he yelled at me. These look true. It looks like the lack of sex causes upset. It looks like the yelling is what causes the hurt.
It looks like the solution is for the other person to change. I wouldn’t be upset if he or she were different.
That is often how couples come to Angus and me, thinking that with our help we will get their partner to change so they will be more to their liking.
This is understandable when it looks like their partner’s behavior causes the upset.
But it doesn’t actually work that way.
Our true nature is peace, love, understanding, joy, compassion. That is our natural state. That cannot be taken away from us by anyone. It is who we are.
What does occur is we have experiences within this unchanging state that come and go. These experiences reflect the content of the thoughts we identify with. They are transitory fluctuations in our state of mind. These fluctuations are not the result of the other person. They are what happens when we identify with who we are not.
My true nature can be peace, love, and understanding, and if I identify with sad thoughts, I will have the experience of sadness. This does not take away who I am. Who I am, allows me to have the full range of human emotional experience that will come and go.
A partner not having sex with us does not cause us to lose our natural state. We are still peace, love, and understanding, but we can temporarily identify with thoughts for anger, hurt, and rejection. Then we will experience those feelings. It is the identification that creates the experience. Another way of saying it is the meaning we make up is what creates the experience.
In one situation a partner may experience love and compassion for a partner who does not want to have sex. In another situation, the partner may experience hurt and anger. The difference is the meaning being made up. The same is true for any experience.
What is important here is that the suffering we experience, the loss of contact with our loving nature, is not our partner’s responsibility no matter what their behavior.
I want to be clear, I am not saying you need to stay with your partner no matter what their behavior. I am saying you can experience the love that you are no matter what your partner’s behavior and make your decisions from there.
Your partner is always psychologically innocent and so are you. You are each always doing the best that you can with the understanding you have.
When a partner does not measure up to your expectations of how they should be and you feel hurt and disappointed, it makes sense to point you to where the suffering arises from. The suffering is the result of your made-up expectations not being met.
You can say, but my expectations are so minimal or so reasonable. They should get met. It is not acceptable that they aren’t getting met. Who are you to say my expectations are wrong?
I am not saying any of that. I simply saying very neutrally that your suffering is the result of made-up expectations not being met and the meaning made up around that rather than being caused by your partner’s behavior.
People often go to extreme circumstances to say it doesn’t work this way. I encourage you to stick with your own life experience and get reflective based on your own experience. This is not a conceptual exploration. This is experiential.
I have lived some extreme life circumstances and know that it works that way for me, but you have to see for yourself what is true.
Is your true nature loving? Is that who you are? Is that true independent of the changes in your emotional state? Is that true of everyone independent of their behavior? Is everyone doing the best they can? Are they psychologically innocent independent of their behavior?
You will have to see what occurs to you when you look inward and get quiet. Rather than listening to the “buts” of the intellect, instead, let your mind relax and listen to the wisdom of your heart. What does your heart know to be true?
For me, what I see is that my true nature of love is who I am even though I don’t always experience it. It is my natural state that I come back to despite the constant modulations that occur in my state of mind that give me a full range of emotional experiences. The space of love coexists with the ups and downs of my humanness.
When I am feeling hurt and suffering. I have simply lost touch with this space within. This is not a problem because I will always settle and come back there. But if I think I need my partner to be a certain way in order for me to experience who I am it will probably take me much longer to experience that space.
I am referring to personal experience here. I used to think I needed Angus to be a certain way in order for me to feel safe and loved. I didn’t recognize that the peace of mind, love, and wellbeing I yearned to experience was actually just who I am. I thought Angus was responsible for my modulations in consciousness. I thought he had the power to take away my experience of wellbeing. I didn’t see that it was my resistance to my own experience that created my suffering.
I didn’t like feeling hurt, abandoned, rejected, or unworthy to name a few of the experiences I resisted. I didn’t see that the experience I was having came from me identifying with thoughts. I blamed him, and I resisted what I felt. My feelings scared me so I fought against them. I tried to change my experience just as hard as a tried to change Angus. The result is that I suffered a lot. My emotions were intense and the goodwill between Angus and I would plummet the more I tried to change him because at the time he did not see my psychological innocence, and took what I said personally. In all of my efforts to change him, I was basically telling him he wasn’t good enough and he took it personally.
Our relationship was a painful mess.
What resolved this mess was me no longer being afraid of my emotional experience because I knew it was temporary seeing that my experience of wellbeing and peace of mind is inside of me. He could not and cannot take it away from me.
This changed everything for me.
This doesn’t mean I never get hurt or upset, but now I am much better at not blaming people or circumstances for my experience, including Angus. This means I don’t add on extra layers of thinking that fuels my upset. I tend to get reflective and quiet quicker. My mind settles more easily into my natural state of open-heartedness. I am also much more comfortable being with my emotional experience without trying to do anything with it. I am better at letting the energy move through me.
This is all a work in progress and a learning curve.
But my suffering is 90% less. My relationship is off the charts better.
So even with the little I see, it has made a dramatic impact on my life.
The answer was not in Angus changing. It was in me finding a space of love and safety within that stopped me seeking it outside of myself. Now when I am upset, I know to look in that direction.
This post is an invitation to you to look within. To experience your innate wellbeing and the expansiveness of your open heart. Then make your relationship decisions from there. Be honest with yourself. This is not an intellectual exploration. It is experiential. You know it when you feel it.
Most of the couples Angus and I work with who truly experience this place within, see their partner with fresh eyes. They recognize the psychological innocence in each other and feel love and compassion. From there goodwill and rapport soar. It is easy to come up with solutions, find common ground, and work out differences. Letting love lead brings out the best in each other so problematic behaviors naturally diminish. When we are open-hearted we are naturally kind, empathetic, and cooperative.
Angus and I are not special. We are the same people we were when we were hurt, angry, and fighting like cats and dogs. We now just show up more in our relationship with settled minds and open hearts and our behavior reflects that. Before we showed up more often with closed hearts and disturbed minds and our behaviors reflected that. That is all that changed. We are still the same just more of the best of ourselves comes out and less of the worst of us.
And with this understanding, I am able to love Angus even when his mind gets unsettled and his behavior reflects that. It is not a threat to me or our marriage. I see his psychological innocence and my own when the same thing happens to me.
If Angus and I can do this, anyone can! I definitely thought we were a lost cause. Angus was always more hopeful and optimistic, but not me. I am grateful he was right!
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In this season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couples' intensives that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilding Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.