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Share more, live happily

Friday, November 26, 2010
Everyone has secrets in personal life. Those secrets people do not share with any one no matter what. Situation gets out of the ordinary when deeper feelings are withheld between life partners – those living together, having common dreams and goals. Does sharing of the private things by husband give his wife power over the former? Or does holding back from each other spoil relations and home milieu that is the basis of trust and dependence.

People have deeply personal or even ordinary secrets they do not share with any one because they think that the revelation may make them vulnerable. It may give the partner some power over them. But, power is abstract, an influence one can exercise over others.

Consider this example: The husband shares with is his wife something about his own brothers, sisters or parents. Say, he tells his wife, "Dear, we need to go to them more often, we need to take care of mother or an upcoming marriage of sister's daughter."

The wife replies, "You have already done so much for each one of them. You have always been taking care of everything. Now it is high time that they should take care of themselves and you should concentrate more on your own home. Our children are also growing up." Unconsciously, with that a few unthinking, conclusive sentences, the wife stop her husband from sharing any more on the subject. So, in the situation, the husband may begin to secretly set aside money to save for taking care of his parents. In doing so, the first step is taken: a secret is withheld. In the years to come, the husband will begin to hesitate to share with his wife because he does not want to feel powerless.

Wives keep secrets from their husbands as well. The wife wants to buy a new microwave oven, or wants to change old curtains or aging furniture. So, she asks her husband, "Dear, we need to go in for a new microwave." The husband replies from over the file he has brought from office to work home, "We cannot afford it." Unconsciously, the husband imposes his authority and the wife feels she is no more in command of the financial situation. So, in the situation just described, the wife may begin to secretly keep away money from her household budget to save for a microwave oven, for curtains or furniture items. In doing so, again sharing is stopped.

Sounds like a storm in a teacup? But, consider what happens around and you will find that withholding of secrets start from just about as minor incidents, events, not necessarily having financial implications. Things keep adding over time. Personal feelings are more fragile than we realize. People feel the loss of power very easily. It does not take much to draw back and hold secrets. Sometime, one look, one gesture from the spouse is enough. Whenever anything is withheld, behind it is an unspoken plea: You do not understand my needs, my fears, my hopes, my wishes, my aspirations.

And behind every reaction is an unspoken attitude. When the husband instantly replies, we cannot afford a microwave oven; he also says without words, I do not care if you are inconvenienced. Instead, if he were to put down his work for a moment, nod sympathetically and ask, what do you think would be easier on our pockets β€” repairing this one or going for a new one? This way he could have shown his involvement with her predicament, yet draw her attention to his.

Likewise, when the wife smiles disbelievingly and replies, "You have already done enough for everyone," she is also communicating wordlessly, "I do not care about your family." Instead, if she were to say quietly, "Would you like to talk about it? How should we be able to balance everything out? β€œShe would have shown him that she is with him in his concerns and he would not feel the need to retreat.

What should be done in situation like this and so many others like this? The husband and wife each can bring strength to a relationship. Without one or the other, the relationship would not exist. So, neither should feel disempowered by the other. Rather, when one partner is seeking, is doubtful, is troubled, the other should share his or her power constructively, encouragingly, supportively rather than further restricting, suppressing or limiting the already-troubled partner. Once couples understand this idea of individual power and that each contributes his or hers to the relationship, their going gets a lot easier. And it does not need a degree in physiology.

The next step is to become involved and listen. For example, when the wife wants to talk out her needs, is it so important for the husband to continue what he is doing; watching television or reading newspaper? Or, when the husband wants to talk, is it necessary for the wife to continue whatever she happens to be doing? The most important thing is to stop everything and listen. The listening partner has a false idea of time β€” the idea that If I do not finish this now, I will never finish it.

This makes the relationship functional rather than loving. Priority must be to make time to listen to each other. It may mean a messier house or missing your favorite TV program, but it will certainly make for a more sharing and caring relationship with no troubled, fearful, unresolved secrets hovering like invisible barriers in the mind.

After having lived my own life and seeing so many others in my circle, one more step that comes to mind is equally important. Never assume that you know your spouse inside-out. When the wife talks about buying a new microwave and the husband thinks "Oh, there she goes again, always wanting to spend money!" He does not share his feelings; he holds it back with his cynicism. Similarly, when the husband talks about his parents and the wife thinks, "Oh, he is at it again." She does not share openly. She holds it back with her dislike.

Finally, always put yourself in the shoes of the others. By imagining how it feels, the listening partner jerks himself or herself to awareness of his or her feelings. And the best way to use it is by sharing it! As much as a good relationship is a cozy co-existence where you live and let live, it is also a trusting, concerned, open-hearted co-existence where you live and help live.

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posted by Doll at 12:26 PM

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