Whenever I have a quarrel with my wife, (not that this ever happens, but just for the sake of this post,) after the dust settles in, it often takes a long while before I am ready to make up and move on. That notion strikes me as very peculiar. Whatever the issue is, large or small, and however it eventually gets resolved, ultimately, both she and I have a choice – stay together or split. It is as simple as that. Thus, so long as we decide to stay together, which had been the case to date (of course, this is all theoretical as we never have disagreements,) the longer I continue to harbor disgruntle after such an incident, the more I suffer.
Why? Why do I extend that misery? Is that really necessary? After all, once the dispute gets, one way or another, resolved, I already made my choice whether to continue the relationship or not. Why the extra delay in returning to a more peaceful life? Maybe it is my ego that does not feel satisfied until a little more internal blood is being shed, maybe it is my way of “punishing” my wife, though, of course, by my actions, I too acquire my fair share of unhappiness, or maybe it’s my brain taking time to rewire itself to the new reality. And maybe it is a combination of all of the above.
At times like this, it feels like my body is saturated with residual anger, and thus switching off the disturbances all at once seems anything but possible. It is like a persistent stain that needs several repeat laundry cycles to be wash off. Yet, on other occasions, I find it easy, once comprehending the above notion of the simple choice I am facing (make or break,) to instantly let go; no cooling off period is required.
Upon further reflection I suspect that the determining factor is not so much the size of the dispute; the measure of the quarrel, but rather the mental state of mind that predominated the incident. An illustration may come handy: imagine muddy water. Throw in even a small rock and the disturbance stirs up dirt for a long while. Throw a much larger stone onto clear water, and the effect will subside quickly. Thus, it is not the size of the dispute that matters but rather the clarity of mind of the parties involved. One may argue that with full mindfulness a feisty argument would have never erupted in the first place, but for such a calm state of mind I may need to move to the Himalayas, or, at least, to a reef-rich Caribbean island. Nothing like thirty to fifty feet of water above me, and a mouthful of compressed air in my lungs, to make me feel superbly content…
Learned from: self-observation during and after a completely fictional spousal dispute.