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Thread: Things are different now

  1. #1

    Things are different now

    I have a question, mostly to those of you in relationships. Since I began this practice, things are much different then they were before. I have a new outlook on life, issues that arise, problems and such. I prefer to, and really now find myself doing this without much effort, taking things much more in stride then I used to. I donít get all bent out of shape, or depressed or feel like life is specifically making itself more difficult just for me. I also donít get so upset with others when they donít get things done, or forget things, because I look at the world much more from a place of ďsuchnessĒ than I used to.

    For example: I canít tell you how often my wife used to give me a hard time when the dishes werenít done and she was working long hours, but I got home earlier then she did. Now, I work two jobs and still have to drive the boys to practice and get dinner done most nights, and when I have a spare second Ė even though it would be much easier for her to do the dishes while I sleep for a few hours before going to my second job Ė I wash the dishes that are, inevitably left in the sink from the night before. It is what it is.

    My question is this. I am more like this now because, I believe, I have been practicing our way, and it is a natural progression. My wife is not a practitioner of the Way, and though Iím sure thatís not the sole reason why she gets so uptight, I believe it has something to do with the reason that she canít deal as well with unexpected changes or issues. So how do I better react to her? She gets sooo angry when things go wrong. She called me on my cell phone today to argue with me about the fact that I didnít take the trash out today (I forgot, and though it is trash day every Thursday, itís sometimes tough for me to remember since all the days tend to blur together when you work nights too!) and I can understand her being upset about it, but yelling?? I just seems so unnecessary to me. It aggravates me because it seems like such a pointless exercise to get angry about. Now, this isnít to say that I canít improve and get the garbage out, but I think there are more constructive ways to do this.

    So what to do? I canít talk to her from a Buddhist standpoint, I tried that once or twice (because that is an integral part of my decision making paradigm) but she said she doesnít believe in that and I respect that. How do you, for those of you with non-buddhist spouses or girlfriends / boyfriends, work with your significant others when your view points on things differ?

  2. #2

    Re: Things are different now

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    So what to do? I canít talk to her from a Buddhist standpoint, I tried that once or twice (because that is an integral part of my decision making paradigm) but she said she doesnít believe in that and I respect that. How do you, for those of you with non-buddhist spouses or girlfriends / boyfriends, work with your significant others when your view points on things differ?
    Looks like we have the same partner... :mrgreen:
    I don't try to "make her see things the way I do" anymore... tried so many times, and so many times I felt to see that her point of view maybe also just a point of view... but it is rooted in a reality that kept repeating...
    Personally, what I wanted when I tried to correct ę*her wrong views*Ľ about how things are or aren't, was to comfort ę*my*Ľ little views, very egoistically. Falling to take the opportunity to deeply communicate with her, always trying to find a good reason for things to be that way or a good ę*buddhist analyse*Ľ of the situation... just meaningless.

    To ę*touch suchness*Ľ in our daily lives is the great gift of the practice, to return to the place we never left... And we benefit so much everyday, but, for me, the problem is to not grasp on that too. To not construct a ę*cathedral of thoughts*Ľ and notion from that.

    To jump beyond the feeling of ę*knowing better reality*Ľ than anyone else, and to also integrate these difficult moments (also mainly about dish washing and laundry).

    To Answer your question, her point of view his also a point of view, a vision of reality, that is the reality I have to deal with.
    I realized that the root of all this wasn't really the way she sees things but the way I did things. Or maybe the way we communicate sometimes (as always been a kind of a problem for me... I showed it too often in our Sangha).
    My partner has been a lot of times a real teacher. When I'm loosing myself in "Buddhisto-metaphisical" considerations she is often the yelling tiger who allows me to return to "real-reality" to "suchness" (just vain words but I'm sure you understood). The main help she seomtimes gives me is when she ask: "Why?"
    We Buddhists, Zennists,... are so often in our little word with our own references and notions... sometimes to take the time to ask ourselves "why?" is a true jewel...

    Mostly useless words but I hope it helps,

    have a very nice day*!
    Gassho,
    Jinyu

  3. #3

    Re: Things are different now

    Well well welll...It sounds that there is a bit of a problem here, and in my life, I had my share of being yelled at and bullied by a wife just because I let it happen. I used to do all the cooking, most of the cleaning, on top of all the teaching...I would not anymore. Buddhist or not. Sorry baby. And if the girls are doing everything while the guy gets his feet up, they should not let it happen. Living together is about sharing chores and stuff. Also respect people's space and ears...

    My partner is not Buddhist. She is but she is not. It is a cultural thing in Japan. She could not care less. And it works very well. I leave Buddhism at our bedroom door, hardly mention it or talk about it. No need. She appreciates my patience and the way I can also be very straightforward and not allow her to take control with nonsense. She is a great teacher too. Keeps me down to earth. It is so far a very beautiful choregraphy. We had a few downs but it just lasted a few days. Pretty normal, really.

    good luck.


    gassho


    Taigu

  4. #4

    Re: Things are different now

    Generally speaking, we do share all the chores. It's not so much a question of that, as it is dealing with things when they go wrong. My response is more to take it in stride and say, "well, it is what it is, nothing to be done about it now, we'll just try to remember not to let that happen that way again. Next time, we'll do it a bit different." Her response is to freak out, yell about things.

    Another example to illustrate: This morning - as I said before, I forgot to take out the trash. I got yelled at, and she was angry because "how can we expect our son to get himself together at school, if we can't do it at home?" I get it, Thursday - trash day. But I'd slept probably 6 hours over the prevous two or three days and wasn't thinking really straight when I got up this morning - even though I got a full night's sleep last night - we were in a rush. But no reason to yell at me, I think. Especially given that the night before, our child hurt himself on a curling iron my wife forgot to unplug, and my response to her was to look her in the eye and say, "please, from now on, don't leave your things plugged in like that, or at least tell me that you've done so, that way I know."

    So different in our reaction - so, how to come together???

  5. #5

    Re: Things are different now

    Chill out, date her and have a meal together...
    No kidding, you have got to work on these things.

    gassho


    Taigu............?`???¨Öśę
    ?ėĶ??ų`?ų
    Ďśęď???Á*cfv

  6. #6

    Re: Things are different now

    Similar things for me to.

    I don't try to talk from a "Buddhist" standpoint. I try to express things from my standpoint. As much corrupted by Buddhism that is, it is different. It is very easy to be dismiss when one brings up religion and philosophy.

    People have their ups and downs, and little quirks. We all do.

    unfortunately, I do not think there is anything I can say that will help you react better. Only you know your partner enough, only you can find the solution.

    At the same time, be thankful for opportunities such as these. They are a great way to manifest the Bodhisattva vow, not in theory, but in our lives.

    Sorry I cannot be of much help.

  7. #7

    Re: Things are different now

    I had some similar issues with my ex-wife; thankfully, my now wife and I are more simpatico on such issues. Eventually, I realized that one reason my ex would yell is precisely because I would not. She saw the physical manifestation of anger as a sign of engagement, and when I didn't yell or show deep anger she thought I didn't care about her feelings or that I was in zen-land, versus being in place in the moment. I can't say for sure that your situation is the same--but be sure she knows that your calm exterior is not disengaged passivity.
    Ted

  8. #8

    Re: Things are different now

    Christopher,

    From my personal experience I can say that one of the most important things in a relationship is a dialogue. It's important to speak up and express your dissatisfactions etc, however, it shouldn't be done in the heat of the moment. The things we learn about right speech and right intentions are just common sense which can and should be applied in our lives. I also stopped brining up Buddhism in every conversation even though my thoughts and conclusions are based on that point of view. I found that mentioning Buddhism may actually alienate the person. Thanks to my practice I'm also trying to see other person's point of view more often, however "wrong" it may seem to me and try to be compassionate but not patronizing. I think the last one is a fine balance though.

    I like Taigu's advice on this. Some of us tend to overanalyze things, sometimes a night out is all that's needed

  9. #9

    Re: Things are different now

    CM
    Being a Buddhist is not about what you log in your minds memory banks. To be a Buddhist is to bring the way into your every day life. Life is not always a smooth ride there are bumps with which we all must deal. To deal with things as a buddhist is bringing the teachings to life through your everyday actions. Is that not what what it's all about? What teachings apply to the situation you find difficult right now? Where is your anger? Where is the self? What is selfless love? What is this thing called ego? Good luck
    Gassho Shogen

  10. #10

    Re: Things are different now

    Have you asked her why she yells?

  11. #11

    Re: Things are different now

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    So what to do? I canít talk to her from a Buddhist standpoint, I tried that once or twice (because that is an integral part of my decision making paradigm) but she said she doesnít believe in that and I respect that. How do you, for those of you with non-buddhist spouses or girlfriends / boyfriends, work with your significant others when your view points on things differ?
    First of all, I would drop that illusion of a "Buddhist standpoint." See how it is causing dukkha? The point of Buddhism is that there is precisely no point on which to stand. The barrier you're up against isn't your wife's reactions. It's you. Right now, she is the greatest teacher you could have (sorry Jundo and Taigu ops: ) because she is showing you where you are unwilling to let go of an idea of a self.

    Do you really want her to see things your way? Who says you are right?

    Man, all that's so easy to say. My wife and I have been gnawing each other lately because we have family coming to stay with us later this month and the house just can't be clean enough. I've been cleaning the fridge, scrubing bathroom tiles with a toothbrush, dusting, etc. I feel like they can take my mess or leave it. Heck, they're family.

    And she still gets uneasy when I bow before my zafu.

    But I try to remember, if she's not happy my practice has gone awry. No zen, no buddha, no ism, no self, no anything whatsoever, should be more important to me than my wife's happines. Ever. There are alot of religious people who are "doing it right" in the zendo, yet failing miserably in the home. We have to balance our isms with care. There's no such thing as familyism or spouseism.

    Taigu said it perfectly. Show her she's important. She's been through alot. Don't be a door mat. But make more love. Massage her feet. Bring her flowers. Soften those hard places before they turn into walls.

    gassho
    Greg

  12. #12

    Re: Things are different now

    I find that I'm usually the more calm one of the two of us. My wife is quicker to raise her voice. I'm probably more quiet, but raise it if necessary. She thinks I do the laundry wrong (I pack the washer too full); I think she does the dishes wrong (she packs the dishwasher haphazardly).

    I don't critique her anymore on it because it does no good. I don't hear her critique me on the laundry much anymore either. We are human and we have our foibles. We live with these foibles of others because that's who they are.

    Yelling is often a mask for stress and exhaustion. It takes so much energy to yell even though we are exhausted. Rather than defend your actions or inactions; tell her how her response makes you feel.

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Re: Things are different now

    Wonderful advice. My perspective on the Buddhist practice is that we become more open to the experience and suffering of others (it's hardest with those who are closest to us)... and we work with it. The risk is in becoming a doormat for others' gripes/dissatisfactions.

    Kodo Sawaki had a great metric for measuring one's practice - 'what does the family think of daddy's practice?' - I would be all full of myself for following the Buddha's path and say "but I am working so hard at listening, being patient and honest.... blah blah blah...." and my sons, when asked, would say "Dad's being a jerk..." Pretty stark metrics, eh?

    OK, I'm going back to cleaning shower tiles for the family Thanksgiving visit. And I am taking my wife out for dinner tonight BTW.

    Awesome discussion, thanks for bringing it up Christopher et al. Maybe what we really need is a "Commiserating husbands thread." Chop wood, scrub toilets. :lol:

    gassho,
    Yugen

  14. #14

    Re: Things are different now

    I sometimes tell folks that questions about time, space, birth, death and the 'Meaning of life' ... are NO PROBLEM, PIECE OF CAKE! But questions about relationships, marriage and the opposite sex? Now, there's the REAL MYSTERY! :shock:

    Heck, why do you think the Buddha thought it easier to just move out of the house and live with other men? 8)

    All I have learned in 20 years of marriage is to be patient ... be VERY patient of each others' perceived faults, be patient of hard times or bumpy times. There may be a time to call the divorce lawyer, but only after making thrice sure and thrice sure again. In most cases, if one can sail through the stormy weather, one's relationship will come out stronger and richer, and one's love deeper (not always).

    Mina, my so patient and tolerant wife, loves to say things to me like "Hey, Mr. Zen Master, when you are done getting Satori, take out the trash" or "Hey, what would all your students say if they saw how you leave your dirty socks on the floor!?" or "Hey Buddha, stop yelling at the TV remote control" ops:

    She says I am much better than 25 years ago ... so something about this Practice must be helping.

    Mina sits Zazen (her family were Nichiren Buddhists, by the way, but like most Japanese, don't practice even that so much), but I think her 'moving Zazen' is her twice weekly Ai-ki-do practice. There, little 95 pound (40 kilo) Mina throws a bunch of giant German and Russian guys twice her size around the room like they were sacks of rice. This keeps great peace in my house, as she can substitute her frustrations with me by throwing them.



    That is all I know.

    Gassho, J

  15. #15

    Re: Things are different now

    So, to sum up (and with a little help from the 'cut' and 'paste' function of my computer), here's what I learned:

    Chill out, date her and have a meal together...
    No kidding, you have got to work on these things.
    People have their ups and downs, and little quirks.
    To deal with things as a buddhist is bringing the teachings to life through your everyday actions.
    I would drop that illusion of a "Buddhist standpoint." See how it is causing dukkha? The point of Buddhism is that there is precisely no point on which to stand. The barrier you're up against isn't your wife's reactions. It's you. Right now, she is the greatest teacher you could have
    And, of course, to enroll her in an Ai-ki-do class :mrgreen:

    I suppose the best thing for me is to try and understand that her reaction is justified to her and to try not to allow my thoughts of "yelling is pointless" to come to the fore too much. After all, I'm sure she feels truly justified in yelling, or else she wouldn't do it, huh? Thanks.

    By the way - as an aside - I sometimes still catch myself saying things like "from a Buddhist standpoint" or some such, and it sometimes takes the occassional reminder from everyone here that there is no Buddhist standpoint, only the standpoint that I currently have, which addmittedly has some Buddhist flavor to it. Thank you all.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    Re: Things are different now

    Much good advice here.

    I can only speak for myself, but I've learned that when the voice in my head sings to me about what my wife "should" be doing I'm in an unhappy place. I'm almost sure that she's a real human being, and has her own perspective, and I would bet that from her perspective the "shoulds" point in the opposite direction.

    The voice in my head constantly sings to me that because I practice Zen / work as a mediator / support Norwich City FC / whatever that my perspective on what everyone else "should" be doing is somehow more valid than everyone else's, and I wonder if that perspective is a danger of Zen practice (and of much else).

    Gassho

    Martin

  17. #17

    Re: Things are different now

    I work mad shifts too I understand how difficult it is to raise a family when you and your wife pass like ships in the night. We had a rough time last year that nearly broke us, but we worked at it and made some changes, one being that as a family we decided to stop shouting, no more shouting. I believe that yelling and arguing become a habit and become the first port of call in a storm, once you realize this and agree its an issue then you can deal with it. Sometimes though being overly calm in a crisis can be misunderstood as not caring.
    My wife isn't Buddhist or religious in any way but she is naturally calm and together, one of her thoughts that I have begun to come round to is, when your children grow up they won't remember a tidy house but they will remember playing football or going for a cycle with their Dad.
    I hope this helps, I must go and put the bins out.
    Gassho
    Gary

  18. #18

    Re: Things are different now

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin
    I've learned that when the voice in my head sings to me about what my wife "should" be doing I'm in an unhappy place.
    Looking back on my own such thoughts, I can see how true that is... thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by fletcher
    when your children grow up they won't remember a tidy house but they will remember playing football or going for a cycle with their Dad.
    Indeed!

  19. #19
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: Things are different now

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    I suppose the best thing for me is to try and understand that her reaction is justified to her and to try not to allow my thoughts of "yelling is pointless" to come to the fore too much. After all, I'm sure she feels truly justified in yelling, or else she wouldn't do it, huh? Thanks.
    No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

    Christopher,

    Whenever a marital issue comes up on Treeleaf, I hesitate to say anything. And if I do say anything, I usually worry almost immediately that I've interfered in a situation I know nothing about. The truth is, I don't know your wife, or what your marriage is like, or you, really. But I do know this, and I'm just going to say it.

    Your wife should not be yelling at you. Nobody should. It's called verbal abuse for a reason, and it's not good for anyone in your household. If she has so much stress in her life that she's going to scream at you over trivial household matters, that's a serious, destructive problem, and I suggest you find a time when both of you are calm and relaxed to discuss this. Perhaps you (both) can find some books on stress management, conflict resolution, etc. If that doesn't help, I dare say couples counseling might be the next step.

    Whatever you do, please, please, do not sit back and take this because you think she feels justified (she's NOT) and because you're a Buddhist. If you really want to do the compassionate thing, please help her to help your marriage. I've seen too many families where kids grow up learning to repeat this kind of behavior.

    I apologize if I've overstepped my bounds. Or if it seems I'm making too much of this. It's not lost on me that two of the men here in this thread are talking about having had this problem with their ex-wives.

    Much, much metta and best wishes for you and your family. I really want to see you guys get through this.

    Jen

  20. #20

    Re: Things are different now

    Hi Christopher,

    I cannot agree more with Jennifer. This yelling cannot be justified. You probably both have issues and both need to work on them ( as I did when I was with my ex-wife) but Buddhism does not say that you should accept people doing harm to you ( and meanwhile to themselves too). When "loosing it" becomes a habit, that should be gently challenged. And I really think counselling is what is needed because somehow a distorted preception-listening and response is interfering when you talk together.

    Just my limited experience.


    gassho


    Taigu

  21. #21
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: Things are different now

    Dear Christopher
    Much metta to yourself and your wife. May patience and the original reasons why you are both together prevail.
    Best wishes
    Nigel.

  22. #22

    Re: Things are different now

    I often find that many times what we think is wrong has absolutely nothing, or at least little to do with what is actually wrong. I know that if I am stressed because of work, got cut off by another driver, have to manage unruly kiddos and then my wife 'forgets to take the trash out' then she will be the one I have the tendency to unload on. I have to stay professional at work, the other driver can't hear me rant and rave and the kids are just kids. So she is my outlet. Now, this isn't to say it's acceptable to vent on someone you love, but in many cases you don't even realize that it's happening or understand the load on you until you blow. The challenge is being able to discuss this openly and honestly without defenses kicking up...maybe near impossible. Only suggestion I can offer in this matter is patience and love. Maybe if she is upset with you because of forgotten trash, affirm your mistake, and explain that you understand how she has a lot going on at work, stress from the kids and maybe any other of plethora of things. This may help diffuse the situation and at the same time illuminate her to the load on her that's causing the vent to blow on you...

    May not be accurate for your situation but I know I'm guilty of this...so hopefully some could be useful.

    On another thought...you also have to realize that you cannot change others...they have to change themselves. Even after you try to help her realize how these things bother you and how you are having a hard time communicating these things, she may continue to get upset at you. Such is the wonderful practice found in relationships.

    G

    s

  23. #23

    Re: Things are different now

    I'm with Jennifer and Taigu on this one. IMO she can get angry at you, but regular yelling and berating are no good. Here's my suggestion.

    When the two of you are having a truly intimate, connected moment, no chores, no kids, just you two, bring it up attempting genuine compassion and understanding for the person you chose to be with. In the moment of yelling, no real talking is going to occur, of course! However, later, bring up the yelling in a way that doesn't treat it as the essence of the relationship but as a particular behavior you'd like to work together on, that sets aside whatever provoked it (trash, dishes) and focuses on the yelling. Ask her how she feels when she's doing it tell her how you feel when she's doing it.

    It's gonna be difficult, and she may, indeed, yell! But I think that's the most honest, fair way to do this work. And work it is.

    One last point. My doctor, who fiddled with Buddhism back in her 20s, made a point to warn me, in a way, about the challenges of one partner diving into Zen while the other does not. I think that she was referring to the danger of my taking a superior attitude -- or my partner taking an inferior one -- and to the effects of changing the climate of the relationship. My wife is very supportive of my practice, and we do talk Zen stuff now and then. But every once in a while I can sense the tension my doctor was mentioning: yesterday, my wife said something about my "lecture" about something or other, and I thought I had been very, you know, compassionate and understanding. Made me remember my doctor's wry smile when I told her that sort of thing wasn't happening.....

  24. #24

    Re: Things are different now

    A very important point Chris, my Japanese partner (we have been five yars together now) is not in the slightest interested in Buddhism. I never talk about practice , let alone lectures on the subject. This is so much more healthier. She respects very much what I do but as she told me last time: " Why do you loose so much time sitting on a cushion?" The tone was quite agressive, I just smiled. Why should I answer? We are getting so well 99,99% of the time. No need of Budddhism in words. Acting as a Buddhist is different; it does not smell, sound even look like Buddhist. But sure it is.

    gassho


    Taigu ( don't worry, I sometimes loose it too)

  25. #25

    Re: Things are different now

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    No need of Budddhism in words. Acting as a Buddhist is different; it does not smell, sound even look like Buddhist. But sure it is.
    Just thank you for this apparently so common... but more than helpful teaching! That's a true daily life "rule"...

    sampai,
    Jinyu

  26. #26

    Re: Things are different now

    So how're you doing, Christopher?

  27. #27

    Re: Things are different now

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA
    So how're you doing, Christopher?
    Well, I'm trying to process it all to be honest. I had a bit of a blow up with her the other day and said my piece, but I also spoke with her about grief counceling at the VA since she's having some severe difficulty with loosing her father, and I'm obviously missing what she needs at the moment. Anger being one of the stages of grief, I understand that she's angry with what's going on, and (this maybe terrible of me, or not, I'm not sure yet) to a point I can tolerate it, but only to a point. When the anger starts getting turned on me for extended periods of time (and she has a special flavor of anger. I'm a former US Marine, and even I wouldn't say some of the things she does when she gets going) my compassion begins to wear thin, and I think that the heads of Kannon that noone likes to talk about start showing up! We'll do our best and work through it though, what else can we do?

    Thanks to all of you for your wisdom and caring.

  28. #28

    Re: Things are different now

    Well, know that there are many of us here thinking of you both. Metta to you and her and hang in there.

  29. #29

    RE: Things are different now

    Please keep us posted... We'll be thinking about you.

    Sent from my SGH-i917 using Board Express

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