Would You Rather Be Right or Happy?
5 of Swords- The Lord of Defeat - a. k.a. For me to win you must lose
I have been married twenty-two years, and over the years my husband and I have been in couples therapy together several times, it seems every six or seven years we need a tune up!
In the beginning, my perceptions and expectations of what I thought Thomas should be or do caused me to suffer greatly. The year or two before we had kids everything was going along fine. Then we started to have children.
I had the expectation that parenting would be shared 50/50; after all it was the 90’s. We were past the times of Lucy and Desi, right? But my kids hadn’t read the memo! Whose name was the first called out in the middle of the night, when they were sick, hungry, upset, or needed help of any kind….it was “MOM”. Even though my husband was very involved, the responsibility of parenting our children, as I quickly found out, was more likely to play out as 20/80. I grew resentful of the situation. I perceived it as unfair and projected much of this anger in my husband’s direction. I quickly began to tally all the injustices I experienced. And of course I had lots of evidence! I was a full-time Mom, but when and where were my coffee and lunch breaks, my awards, and bonuses? Underwear on the floor, caps off the toothpaste were suddenly not cute little idiosyncrasies of my husband but rather signs of his disrespect, and boy did I keep score!
Finally, I was miserable enough to try to find a solution: couple’s therapy, to which my husband willingly agreed. My objective was to get him there, and display all my evidence against him to an objective third party. The therapist would see how unfairly I was treated and would then “fix him.” He would no longer be messy, he would agree with me - because I was right after all - and I would finally be happy. For me to be happy I had to be right, and he had to admit he was wrong! I was the Lady of Defeat! Wearing the 7 of Swords like a badge of honor! So off we went.
I was horrified when the therapist asked to see me alone, as well as with my husband! “No!” I protested, “He needs to go alone not me! He’s the one we need to fix! “
She asked me, “What would happen if you didn’t expect him to be who he isn’t? Does it bother him that his underwear is on the floor?”
“No” I replied.
“Does he ask you to pick it up?”
“No, he would be perfectly happy leaving it there, he’s a pig!”
“Is it important to you that the underwear not be on the floor?”
“Then pick it up”
What if I changed my perception that my husband was intentionally disrespecting me? Was it true? What if I didn’t know the reason for another’s actions and didn’t assume they were unfair.
Later, when asked if his slovenliness was a passive aggressive way to disrespect me, he laughed out loud! “Why would I want to do that?” he asked. “I didn’t even realize I was doing those things, let alone planning them to make you mad!”
What if I didn’t expect him to be neat and agree with me? What if I did things because I wanted them that way?
I had to ask myself: what would my life look like if I stopped keeping score? What if I stopped expecting things to be different than they are, and instead just accepted what is?
It took me years after this first therapy session to figure out that the reason she wanted to see me alone is because I was the cause of my suffering, not my husband. To be happy, I had to give up scorekeeping as well as the related aspects of personal judgment and expectation. I had to reverse the seven of swords and make my
relationship a win/win situation. I think I spent the first fifteen years of my marriage trying to be right, and the last seven trying to let that go. While I’m not there yet, I’m working on it.
With our limited perception, how can we really know what is fair? Surrender is the path to freedom.
I stepped on some underwear this morning... I just picked them up.
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This Month's Highlight Card Found by Elana on the 1 Train
Hi. Thanks for the card. It was a lovely surprise early in my day. On a bench in the 1 train station I found a VIII with branches reaching diagonally downward and some of them appear to almost touch the ground, a river ... I don't know what this card is called but it seems to me to have something to do with perspective. Their are these branches with rare leaves an they are probably very high up above the ground but through a choice of perspective the artist has rendered them within reach. This made me think that these high places are in or out of reach depending on my own perspective.
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