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Thread: Family Rows

  1. #1

    Family Rows

    Hi Guys

    sorry about the multiple posts this morning - I woke early, the family are asleep and I am here as the sun rises, tapping at the keyboard, coffee at my side.

    My wife (gorgeous lady, whom I love deeply) were having one of our rows yesterday. Now we have been together for 28 years and we can go from innocuous remark to screaming banshee mode in a matter of seconds. Being a man I, of course, have made sulking and bearing a grudge almost an Olympic sport - which can go on for hours & sometimes a day or so.

    So I stand before you, with feet of clay, how do you deal with these situations? - so that they are addressed quickly and amicably. I would love to know so that the next 28 years have less of these moments.

    Kindest regards


    ps - it's a public holiday today, here in the UK - being Good Friday

  2. #2

    Re: Family Rows

    I would say stop. Literally stop and smile. Notice how you are at "that" moment. Notice your reaction to what your wife is saying. Just stop. Feel the tension. Don't really know what else to say but stop, notice and smile. Maybe take a cool down walk. I now catch myself ( and have pretty much gotten over the hump, but not quite) on the verge of being frustrated with my students or student and now just from practicing can catch myself and recognize it before it starts. I just catch it, smile, and perhaps pay attention. And breathe. Feel your breathe if you can.

    I'm sure someone else has some great advice.


  3. #3

    Re: Family Rows

    I put my hands in gassho and smile.
    Oh, and we made a promise to never ask a "why" question of each other.
    And, we try to pay attention to actual "feelings" (happy, sad, glad, angry) and just deal with those appropriately in the moment.

    Marine Corps Marriages have a 75% divorce rate (higher for those married to foreign nationals like my other half) and we are still together after 12 years. Toot, Toot :!:

    Take care,

  4. #4

    Re: Family Rows

    Hi, Jools.

    Not sure what I could add . . . my wife and I have been married 14 years and I know that in the past year or so I have gotten much better at not trying to make her and/or our marriage conform to my ideas about her/our marriage. I let her be her and the marriage be what it is. I'm now a lot less likely to argue about little stuff that doesn't matter anyway.
    Also, if you've been married 28 years, maybe it is working and doesn't need to be changed. Marriages are tough and hard work, maybe you have created the coping mechanisms that are appropriate for your marriage dynamic. As we say around here, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.


  5. #5

    Re: Family Rows


    Married 8 years, seven months, 21 days. We have both made efforts to learn how to "fight fair". We're still learning.

    Some of what this means, for us,
    -Not yelling or screaming.
    -Not insulting or mocking.
    -Being clear about what it is we are upset about.
    -Staying on-topic.
    -Letting go of grudges.

    Sometimes we fail, and then we acknowledge and apologize. It can be difficult, but the payoffs are huge.

    Some form of therapy, counseling and/or personal practice is probably necessary - although it's not necessary that both partners follow the same way, they do need to have respect for each others' path.

    Good luck,

  6. #6

    Re: Family Rows

    Good morning from Maine. A blustery morning with a cup of coffee at hand. Thank you for sharing your experience. I am smiling in recognition of the humanity and reality of the situation you describe:

    "My wife (gorgeous lady, whom I love deeply) were having one of our rows yesterday. Now we have been together for 28 years and we can go from innocuous remark to screaming banshee mode in a matter of seconds. Being a man I, of course, have made sulking and bearing a grudge almost an Olympic sport - which can go on for hours & sometimes a day or so."

    It very closely mirrors my own - I have been married for eighteen years to an amazing, loving woman. When we have a blowout, we can go from standstill to scorched earth in no time flat! I am Greek, and my wife is French and Cherokee Indian - indendiary (and passionate) combination! A couple of observations of my own experience: often, my loved one is the only one I feel comfortable sharing (more often hiding) my fears and weaknesses with - although these may be expressed in a less than ideal fashion. Second, I have noticed as I have begun to practice Zen, study the notion of self, and observe my own feelings and emotions come and go, that the duration of these emotional episodes has shortened dramatically - for myself, and in turn for our interaction (I throw less gas on the fire). I have to remind myself that we are human - love and marriage are not antiseptic affairs - there are stresses in life and we live them with our partners. I think the best we can do is to strive for practice and recognition of our emotions and behavior - and then practice compassion for ourselves and our loved ones.

    I remember Saint Exupery's quote in The Little Prince - when the rose was speaking to the Little Prince: "you are responsible forever for what you have tamed.." When I made the commitment to be married, I took on responsibility for my part in our partnership, as well as the choice to love my wife... our relationship is like a rose - it requires nurturing, fertile soil, and love - as it is a living thing. I probably write this most for my own benefit, as it has taken me a long time to learn this. I can be a callous and selfish boob.... I think the essence of our practice is to accept where we are - and examine the role of "self" in our behavior.

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to reflect on the reality - and humanity - of my own marriage.


  7. #7

    Re: Family Rows

    I don't have those types of blowouts with my I really can't share any personal experience with you other than a funny little thing my wife and I do....

    When we start getting pissy with one another for no good reason, usually one of us will come to our senses and start hissing at the other like an angry's just our way of saying, "I hate you right now!".....but in a way that acknowledges not to take it personally. Then we usually smile and go back to our corners until we cool off...

    - John

  8. #8

    Re: Family Rows

    I remember a big one, we were in the midst of a high tension quiet period, and i blurted
    "Stupid Idiot..." with the sincerity of a five year old. It broke the ice and we both laughed and moved on. To this day I assume she thinks I meant myself ...

    Whats said in the Sangha stays in the Sangha right?

    Much of our personal calamity follows this dynamic, storm and fury signifying nothing. Usually we move on by making fun of our own behavior. Johnny, cat hissing! Priceless.

    One final note. My wife once remarked with a wee bit of envy over the elaborate wedding a friend of hers was planning. I made her feel better by pointing out that anyone can spend money on a wedding, but you have to wait about twenty years before one can meaningfully infer the value of a marriage.

  9. #9

    Re: Family Rows

    Hi Guys

    thank you all for responding - it's good to know its not just me :lol:

    Well it's a blustery day here, clear skies, cold & the daffodils are hunkering down. Children (& 1x sleepover guest) fed, washing on & coffee taken to wife in bed - so I have a few minutes to respond to all your kind comments:

    Will - thank you for the stop, breathe & smile approach. I am pretty good at work doing that (although the grunt, snarl & whinge approach often wins through ) - the trouble at home is that my wife & I have so much history, that we know exactly which buttons to press. But yes, you are quite right, if I was centered and calm that's exactly what I should do.

    Jordan - glad I struck a chord. I will never ask why again , although saying that - questioning the recollection of events always gets a good response :?

    Bill - "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" - ain't that the truth & thank you for that vote of confidence. Taking Jundo's talk of a few days ago - marriage is like a rollercoaster, with the highs, come the lows , but not so often as they used too.

    Terry - good checklist there (I recognise all of them & could add some more) & your right, the one thing to do in a row is fight fair. We always end up saying sorry too, because in the end our relationship is built on unconditional love. As for counselling - ahh no, I would run for the hills & would hope it never gets that far.

    Alex - Lovely sentiments & right to the point re the "self" - it often (i.e always) comes down to my ego & learning to let go of all that baggage. By the way my wife is irish (fiery) & I am welsh (melancholic) so we have a wonderful mix too!

    John - your a lucky man - I will look for the signs next time & try and laugh it off

    Louis - lovely anecdote & your secret is safe with me At least you have the maturity of a five year old when you argue - I'm much younger than that

    Again - thank you all for your kind contributions. Just to finish off - I enjoy the writing of Lama Surya Das (wrong tradition - but please forgive me), he has come up with a five point plan to manage this type of situation:

    Recognise - i.e: all the buttons being pushed & stop, breathe, reflect & relax
    Recollect - i.e: the negative consequences of what you are about to do
    Refrain & Restrain - i.e: hold back your usual reaction & be compassionate
    Relinquish - Be more intelligent in your response - feel the habitual reaction, but don't act upon it
    Recondtioning & Responding - Learn from it!!

    Now - off to lay an Easter egg hunt

    Best wishes


  10. #10

    Re: Family Rows

    Well, I'm not one to offer marital advice for reasons that I'd rather not go into :? However, one thing that I've found helpful across the years in any situation that starts to escalate is to quit with the statements that start with "You...." As in "you always..." "You're the one..." "Well, you said..." That kind of thing. If I find myself wanting to start a sentence that way I try ("try" being an operative word) to turn it around into an "I" statement. So, if you want to say "You always do that thing with your mouth...." try to identify what about that drives you nutty and just say it..."I can't stand when you do that thing with your mouth because it reminds me of my mother!!" Well, you just found out a little something about you and it doesn't have much to do with them now, does it??

    Anyway, something like that. Hope all is well....

    BTW, from this woman to you married all rock out!! Awsome men do exist!! Fancy...

    In Gassho~

  11. #11

    Re: Family Rows

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn

    BTW, from this woman to you married all rock out!! Awsome men do exist!! Fancy...

    In Gassho~
    Awe shucks!

  12. #12

    Re: Family Rows

    Hi Lynn

    Thanks for the pointer - it is always suprising that a spat about who put the bins out last, can sometimes escalate to encompass most of prehistory - but using "You" (in that tone of voice, of course) is a great way to do it.

    And thank you for the vote of confidence - :lol:

    Best wishes


  13. #13

    Re: Family Rows

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn
    BTW, from this woman to you married all rock out!! Awsome men do exist!! Fancy...
    I'm with Lynn. All good advice. My husband and I have been married for 30 years and of course we know each other's buttons. When things blow up at our house, I try to sit for a few minutes to get to the bottom of my feelings. (I can't seem to hide from myself on the zafu). Then I go back to try to acknowledge what I did to contribute to the argument. I know I like to talk things through more than my husband does. Usually, when we discuss things we find that we each misunderstood what the other meant. (And sometimes we just acknowledge that one or both of us were grumpy that day.) When it gets bad, the three rules I try to use are:

    1. Whatever happens, don't stomp out of the house and leave.
    2. Take a timeout and truly understand my feelings.
    3. Don't go to bed angry (Thanks Ann Landers)

    I takes work and the important thing is to keep trying. (And a hug at the right time goes a long way.)

    Hope it has all blown over by now, Jools.



  14. #14

    Re: Family Rows

    Hi Linda
    thanks for taking the time to post - I love the "bad" rules, they sound all too familiar.
    Everything fine here thanks - and all has blown over many days ago now.
    Now if I could just sort out my teenage kids......... Only joking!!
    Best wishes

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