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More than 40 percent of marriages end in divorce. So, to save your marriage, you need human wisdom to know and understand why marriage relationships fail.
Human wisdom is more than knowledge: it is your awareness and mindfulness of what is happening to you and around you, including your marriage partner.
Consciousness and Self-Consciousness
“The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.” Lao Tzu
Consciousness is everything in life; if you aren’t conscious, you aren’t living your life, if not already dead. Consciousness comes from the awareness of your breath. Surprisingly, many people may not have this consciousness, because breathing is no more than a natural and subconscious act, and they just take it for granted.
Marriage-just like life-is an inner journey that often requires consciousness of the body and the mind, together with that of the soul or spirit, to continue making its progress in the right direction to reach its destination. Sadly, since the beginning of time, many people have traveled on the same journey of marriage or life but without reaching their desired destinations. Why not? It’s because they simply lack their consciousness of the body and the mind, not to mention that of the soul or spirit, to guide them along that long and winding marriage journey with its many detours and sidetracks.
Consciousness comes from the mind, which is created by the brain. Hippocrates (460 - 370 BC), the father of modern medicine, was one of the first scientists to observe and notice that people with brain damage tended to lose their mental abilities. He realized that the mind is created by the brain, and therefore the mind crumbles piece by piece as the brain dies.
The human brain creates the consciousness of the mind, and thus giving all humans their pleasures and displeasures, their happiness and unhappiness, as well as other positive and negative feelings and emotions. These human perceptions then become their experiences which are stored in their minds as memories, generating their subsequent thoughts-together they then become the byproducts with which they weave the so-called “realities” in their lives, including how they view their marriages. But are these “realities” for real? Probably not.
Consciousness is the capability of your thinking mind to see how and why certain perceptions occur and affect your thinking mind, and thus creating those “realities.” Without your own mental consciousness, which is knowing what‘s happening in the mind, you just obediently follow what your mind tells you to do. In other words, you might have become a slave to your thinking mind, instead of being the master of your own thoughts and thinking.
Are you conscious of your mind, or what your mind is thinking right now?
You’re conscious of your thinking mind if you’re always conscious of your own breathing.
Life is made up of many breaths. For thousands of years, the Chinese have believed that the lifespan of an individual is determined by the number of breaths assigned to that individual at birth. That explains why traditional Chinese exercises, such as Qi Gong and Tai Chi, focus so much on the art of breathing, especially on extending the breaths, which holds the key to longevity. Western science has already attested to the fact that tortoise, with the longest lifespan in the animal kingdom, has the longest breath, while rodent, with the shortest lifespan, has the shortest breath.
So, the consciousness of your breaths is a reflection of your own consciousness of life, as well as of many other things in your life, including your own marriage. Consciousness of breaths begins with breathing. Are you constantly conscious of your breaths-your breathing in and breathing out?
Remember, breathing is the most important moment-to-moment activity in human life. Even the Bible has made references to the importance of the breath from God, which is not only life itself but also divine understanding.
“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)
“But it is the spirit in a person,
the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.” (Job 32:8)
So, consciousness of breaths leads to self-consciousness, which is your own mental awareness of self, of others, including your marriage partner, and of the world around you. Self-consciousness is your mindfulness of what’s happening to you and your marriage partner. Without this mindfulness of self, you’re simply existing, but not really living.
Asking Questions and Seeking Answers
“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.” Thomas Berger
“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” Voltaire
Asking questions and seeking answers is deep thinking, which is the only pathway to attaining true human wisdom.
Thinking is a process of self-intuition through asking relevant questions to create self-consciousness and self-introspection. It’s the natural habit of the human mind to try to solve all problems by asking questions. Through solving problems, the mind can then make things happen.
Asking relevant questions is self-empowerment of the human mind to create wisdom because it creates the intent of the mind to learn, to discover, and then to change the mind, thereby instrumental in changing the self. Change is one of the most difficult human endeavors. There’s a Chinese saying: “It’s easier to change the landscape than to change the human character.” But without that change, it’s often difficult to adapt to the many life changes occurring along the marriage journey. Marriage without any change becomes static, boring, and ultimately meaningless and unhappy.
Asking questions and then seeking answers through the self-conscious mind may be the only pathway to attaining self-enlightenment. After all, throughout your marriage journey, you just have to ask yourself many different questions at different stages, and then seeking different answers from all the questions asked. So, to reach the destination of your marriage journey, the wisdom in asking the right questions and seeking the appropriate answers is a necessity, and not just an option.
When you ask self-intuitive questions, you may also begin to empower your mind to seek self-enlightening answers to the questions asked. This internal mental self-consciousness is just the beginning of true wisdom. The answer to every question that you ask may change over time because your marriage life is forever changing, and these changes are also self-transformative. The more questions you ask, the clearer your mind becomes, and the more ready you’re to receive the answers. That’s how you enhance and increase your wisdom by asking questions and seeking answers.
Although asking questions is a self-learning process, don’t seek “absolutely definitive” answers from the questions asked; more importantly, don’t seek answers that sometimes can’t be given to you. The most important thing in questions-and-answers is to experience everything in the process, not just to pursue knowledge. As a matter of fact, knowledge can help, but it can also hinder. When you only follow what you know, and forget what you feel, you can easily be led down the wrong pathway. Remember, extensive knowledge and logical reasoning may not necessarily compound true human wisdom.
Live every question you’re going to ask yourself and live in its full presence. Be patient toward all those questions that you may not have an answer right away. True enlightenment may dawn on you one day when you find yourself asking fewer or even no more questions because by then you may already have all the answers; that is the ultimate self-enlightenment, which is the essence of profound human understanding.
So, throughout your marriage journey, you have to ask yourself many questions why certain things happened to you and to your marriage partner, such as conflicts and arguments over this and that.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
Internal Balance and Harmony
Marital conflicts happen due to different emotions and feelings of the marriage couple.
The seven emotions
According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there’re seven emotions which are the underlying causes of many internal diseases, and these emotions are: anger, anxiety, fear, fright, joy, sadness, and worry. Because Chinese medicine is all about internal balance and harmony, these seven emotions may even affect different human body organs. For example, excessive anger impairs the liver, causing headaches, while even excessive joy dysfunctions the heart, leading to mania and mental disorders.
Anger or rage is an ineffective and inefficient way to resolve any issue or to make any problem go away. Anger is a disruptive emotion that may often lead to depression, and worse, the breakup of a marriage or a love relationship, especially if the anger isn’t properly addressed and controlled.
So, how to change your disruptive emotion of anger or rage?
·Take a deep diaphragm breath, and just feel your anger as you breathe in.
·Look at your anger in your mind. Then review the situation, and ask yourself one simple question: Can your anger change the situation or anything?
·Accept that you’re now angry, and then breathe it out. If necessary, use your arm like a sword cutting through your feelings of rage, while saying: “I can see my anger: it is as it was!”
Don’t hold your anger in; instead, let it go, by breathing it out. Don’t let it go as pain; instead, let it go as your acceptance. But your acceptance should be viewed not as a sign of your own weakness but as a statement of your own communication to yourself that getting angry will never solve the problem anyway or right away.
·Then, remind yourself that anger is always present to serve a purpose to release some deeper issues, problems, and internal conflicts that you may be carrying in your own bag and baggage all these years. It’s always better to release anger than to turn it around to destroy yourself.
But suppressing your anger is also self-destructive, as the negative energy redirects itself back into your own body. Anger is always a path of destruction. Resolve anger by developing habits that may release internal conflicts in a constructive manner before it can be released as rage.
Donna Alexander, the creator of the “Anger Room” in Chicago, first thought of the idea as a teenager living in Chicago. Having witnessed much domestic violence and many conflicts at school as a teenager, Donna Alexander finally decided to create a space where anyone can lash out without serious consequences. While at the “Anger Room,” the guests, after paying a fee, are given a safe space to unleash their anger and rage by smashing and destroying objects, such as glasses or even a TV. In addition, the room can also be set up to look like an office or a kitchen, where anger often becomes totally uncontrollable.
Here are some thinking questions:
·Can you really hold off your anger until after you have checked in at the “Anger Room”?
·If you’re so accustomed to smashing and destroying many objects at the “Anger Room,” can you still restrain yourself from doing the same when your anger is sudden and unmanageable in the office or the kitchen of your home?
Joy and sadness
Any positive emotion, such as joy, in excess may also become negative. It’s not uncommon that many people experience winter blues right after Christmas and the New Year celebration.
Of all the other negative human emotions, worry is the least useful, and serves no purpose at all. Worry is about the future and the unknown.
Your emotions and feelings are cherished and nourished by the traits of your personality. So, change your personality as much as possible, or at least adapt and adjust it to comply with that of your marriage partner. Marriage is about change, including that of personality.
Remember, the world always reflects your actions. If you change, the world around you will also change. In the same manner, if you lash out in rage, then the world lashes back at you with that same rage causing you internal pain or grief that still has to be addressed and resolved. That’s the reality of living a married life with anger and rage.
Conflicts and Violence
The complexity of marital relationships is often the source of conflicts and even violence in the marriage couple.
To overcome marital conflicts, you must overcome the following obstacles:
Your actions, especially negative ones, are often based on your knowledge of self and your marriage partner, which is often incomplete and inadequate. Many people hardly know themselves, let alone the emotional needs of their marriage partners.
So, always be mindful of the needs of marriage partner first, instead of just those of your own, and that’s always the way to avoiding marriage conflicts.
Your perceptions are based on your attitudes, beliefs, and habits, which may be biased and distorted because they’re derived from your own unique past experiences.
So, let go of your attachment to the past, especially your own bag and baggage from your past marriages and love relationships. Your incorrect perceptions often cause inappropriate actions, reactions, or lack of actions, and thus resulting in conflicts in your current marriage.
Contemporary culture focuses too much on self-centeredness that fosters the belief that “I am special” or reinforces the “mine-is-better” attitude. The net result is that you may now begin to believe that your own convictions do carry more weight than those of your marriage partner, who should listen to you. So, be mindful of your self-centeredness, which is the root cause of bias, prejudice, and non-acceptance.
Marital conflicts-both internal and external-will arise from time to time, and they’re all unstoppable, unless you deliberately and purposely let go of them. So, all conflicts can be resolved, and sanctity can be restored if you’re always soft and flexible, instead of hard and resistant.
Marital Balance and Harmony
The ancient Chinese philosophy of life and living may throw some light on managing your own marital balance and harmony.
The Five Elements
Thousands of years ago, the Chinese began to use the five elements to describe interactions and relationships between things that happened in their lives.
According to the ancient Chinese wisdom, the five elements were: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water, and they are still believed to be the fundamental elements of everything in the universe, between which interactions occur, and thus creating the balance and harmony.
Balance and harmony
The five elements balance and complement one another to create internal balance and harmony:
· Water nourishes trees or wood.
· Without wood, there’ll be no fire (which burns wood).
· Without fire burning wood, there’ll be no earth (the ashes from the burnt wood).
· Without earth, there’ll be no metal (from the earth itself).
Likewise, your marriage should have internal balance, not just within each other but also toward each other.
A natural cycle
These five elements also create a natural cycle of all things, both visible and invisible:
Fire heats metal to produce water; without metal, there’ll be no water; without water, there’ll be no tree or wood; without fire, there’ll be no earth.
Fire melts metal; metal cuts wood; wood separates earth; earth absorbs water; water smothers fire.
The wisdom is that all things follow a natural cycle: what does up must also come down. That is, success is followed by failure, just as life is inevitably followed by death. The wisdom is to accept and embrace anything and everything without resistance. The truth is to learn valuable lessons from them, such as letting go of past failed relationships, and resilience to survive and thrive in your present marriage.
Characters and characteristics of the five elements
·Fire: charismatic; eloquent; energetic; passionate; volatile.
·Wood: aggressive; challenging; competitive.
·Earth: caring and nurturing; compassionate and empathetic; reliable and resilient.
·Metal: brave; faithful; intellectually sharp; methodical; organized; righteous; self-disciplined.
·Water: adaptable; determined and forceful; self-sufficient; strong-willed.
So, if you believe in the five elements, and how they may affect your marriage and your marriage partner, then find out which element you and your marriage partner belong to so that you may have a better understanding of each other’s character and personality.
To find out on the Internet, you need to know the year that you and your marriage partner were born, and the animal that you and your marriage partner belong to.
There’re altogether 12 animals:
·Wood: Tiger and Rabbit.
·Fire: Snake and Horse.
·Earth: Ox, Dragon, Goat, and Dog.
·Metal: Money and Rooster.
·Water: Pig and Rat.
Think about your own nature with reference to the five elements. Are you strong and independent like metal, bold and pioneering like wood, soft and flexible like water, fiery and passionate like fire, or nurturing and receptive like earth?
No matter what, internal balance and harmony is the essence of a good and happy marriage.
What you see in everyone and everything around you is a reflection of you, or what’s inside you. Neither is internal peace a myth, nor are internal conflicts a condition of existence. Inner peace is an acquired state of mind that recognizes the importance of internal balance and harmony.
So how do you have internal balance and harmony within yourself?
Look deep inside you to have a better understanding of what you really seek in your marriage partner, or from any other individuals, including your children and close members of your family. Always use your consciousness of breath to go deep into your inner being with your mindfulness. Practice meditation every day.
When your mind is quiet-in absence of the fear of the sound of silence-your mind can then experience clarity of thinking that may enable you to know yourself and your marriage partner better.
So, meet any marriage conflict head on, deal with it, and resolve it together with your marriage partner, if possible.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau
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