Advice for couples dealing with stress and fighting.

It is said that the most stressful things in life are moving, death and divorce. After what my family has gone through over this last month, I can affirm that moving belongs on that list. However unlike most people who simply move house, we tend to moved entire countries, giving up all of our possessions, friends and family for little more than an opaque future.

Due to the extremity of our move I have been forcefully reminded that during times of extreme stress everything goes to shit. Our routine is non-existent; our emotions are buckwild; our mental and physical focus are low or non-existent; and the ability to do anything beyond the task at hand has diminished immeasurably. It is for this reason that I haven’t written anything new in the past few weeks. With no clear routine, ridiculous amounts of stress, and a family to worry about I simply can not focus, and subsequently can not create.

Nonetheless, life and God never stop teaching, and I have learned invaluable lessons about dealing with family and fighting in difficult situations.

When you want to fight, look at your kids.

My wife and I have been fighting a lot. It has nothing to do with love or happiness, as between us there is an abundance of both. It has everything to do with the extraordinary stress we are under and our inability to deal with it as a couple, and as a family.

A few days ago, while we were trying to expunge our emotions over something not even worth remembering, I made the rare move of looking down at my son, only to see something I will never forget. I saw his eyes, large and innocent, watching the two most important people in his life acting insanely. The emotion I felt while looking at him was nothing short of an awakening.

My son, in his absolute purity of spirit, was dealing with the stress in his own way, selflessly internalising it while continuing to live in the moment. We on the other hand were trying to make each other suffer as if it would somehow relieve our pain as individuals. We were not only failing to relieve our own suffering but we were worsening his, and looking into his eyes in that moment lead me to this understanding, as well as immeasurable sorrow.

When we as people fight we forget so many things. We forget the children who are in the room with us, watching on painfully as the core members of their family battle over nothingness. We forget our own conscious approach to living life and loving one-another as we allow ourselves to be consumed by our own selfish emotions. And we forget to live in the moment, spiritually unaware of all that is around us and within us.

I learned that looking at our children in these moments reminds us, grounds us and saves us from destroying ourselves (and them). Not only should we not put our own suffering onto them but we should learn from them and allow them to be the reason we do not lose our cool in turbulent times.

Look at your children lovingly. They will stop you, and they will save you.

If something’s bothering you, tell your partner.

As it turns out my wife was not only stressed about the move but was trying to address within herself a longtime personal need. That need was causing her to be insecure, and her insecurity was resulting in arguments over the smallest details which even obscurely related to it. As I had been told nothing of it I had no idea what was going on, and I considered her behaviour borderline nuts. While a wiser man would have put 2 and 2 together, I, caught up in my own self, put it all down to the stress caused by the move.

It took her over one week and three separate arguments to express what was really going on, and at that moment EVERYTHING was swept away. Had I known sooner not only would we have avoided several fights but I would have helped her deal with it more promptly, allowing for greater collaboration, harmony and love between us.

I blame myself for her feeling as though she couldn’t share with me (due to my own mood), proving once again the impact of the selfish mindset. We can not allow ourselves to be selfish for a single day. Selfishness and selflessness are two completely different mindsets which lead to two entirely different circumstances. Selflessness results in love and compassion. Selfishness results in chaos and divorce.

In times of stress remember to do something selfless, and ensure you take a few hours to stay with your partner and really talk about what’s going on. It’s an absolute must.

Men get moody for two reasons

Men truly are simple creatures. Discussing my recent mood swings with my wife, and ruling out the possibility that they were solely stress related, I explained it to her like this:

Men get moody for two simple reasons. Either they don’t have enough sex, or they don’t have enough time.

While it isn’t an absolute rule, the above should be used in assessing why your man is unhappy. Is he sexually satisfied? And has he had any man-time? If the answer to either of these questions is NO then you have likely found the problem.

I am pleased to say that in my case the problem was, and in part still is, time.

Since coming to the above realisations things are remarkably better. Yes we are still stressed, but I am making more time to spend talking to my wife, she is allowing me more time to relax my man-brain, and my son is happier as his parents are back to their loving selves.

It’s hard to appreciate suffering when it’s happening, but now that it’s over I thank God for our troubles, and the lessons they have taught us.

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  • Reply Arby July 23, 2013 at 10:05 PM

    Toma – I was very happy to read that you worked this out in your relationship, and thanks for sharing a painful experience turned into wisdom with your readers. Men and women certainly think differently. We are like rivers, sometimes calm and inviting, offering a cool drink for any one that stops by and at other times, swollen with rain, we are like Cat 5 rapids. Usually the men in our lives expect us to fit either state into a glass and just hand it to them…and we find this nearly impossible to do. Women need someone in a loving state of mind offering them time, attention and a safe place to do it in, in order to be able to show love or work out our problems.

    You were absolutely correct about how much impact fighting has on a child. I remember listening to my parents arguing daily for years. When the day came that my father walked out on us, I recall being so happy that it was finally quiet. I could never have imagined the pain of losing my father and the chaos and poverty we would descend into after that. It also left me unable to effectively communicate within a relationship for I never learned how. For six years, I was with someone who didn’t believe in arguing. During that time, he taught me the absurdity of fighting, yet never a way to actually communicate because he didn’t know how to either. As you can imagine that relationship ended. Years have gone by and I did learn how to function in a relationship, so I wasn’t entirely scarred for life…

    However, if you would compliment me on anything I have shared here, please don’t. That I carry the “ticket” of understanding from it has helped me in life, yet the price I paid for it was too high to ever be happy, proud of, or take a compliment for it and I can assure you that it is a price you never want to make a child pay.

  • Reply Jen October 3, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    I really enjoyed this article! The mindfulness it presented was very refreshing. It is amazing how just looking at our children during moments of useless pride and fury can restore our senses and show us the way.

  • Reply Ruth November 5, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    I don’t get this article, since I feel it contrasts with another article that you wrote on this blog. In this one, you’re saying that “[with your partner] talk is an absolute must” but on the other article I read where it downplays psychiatry, it says that we shouldn’t talk about our problems because it adds fuel to the fire. Can you clarify this?


    • Reply Toma November 6, 2013 at 2:48 PM

      Talking to our partner is representative of duality-turned-oneness. Two people who are in fact one, just like that which is within each of us. It is a spiritual experience with a higher spiritual purpose.

      Talking to a psychiatrist is you strengthening your own centre. It is a one-way street with no higher purpose.