Politics Magazine

Meditations on Gratitude – Our Partners

By Andrew Furst @a_furst

If you’ve been together with your partner for a while, I guarantee that you’d quickly articulate what it is about them that irks you.  You probably remember the last thing they did that angered or annoyed you. The word resentment will trigger emotions that you’ve probably been holding onto for some time.  There are a lot of colloquialisms that capture the nature of long term relationships

  • familiarity breeds contempt
  • absence makes the heart grow fonder
  • we don’t know what we have until it’s gone

I’m no stranger to these emotions.  The most important teacher I have in life is the relationship I have with my wife.  We’re both very idiosyncratic and stubborn. We both fall into ruts of behavior and there are plenty of stressors in our life that set us up for conflict.

So what can you do to keep from being at each other’s throats? I certainly don’t have all the answers here. And what works for me doesn’t work for everyone.  That’s especially true with my wife and I.  We take very different approaches to life, stress, and all that.

But I’ll share something that I do frequently to remind me how very important my wife is to me.

In the Buddhist tradition there are many practices tied to contemplating death. There are the charnel ground meditators who spend days in cemeteries where corpses lie rotting and are torn apart by vultures. There are the visualizations of the various body fluids that make up who you are, sure to stir up disgust and relinquish your attachment to the body.

First, you must understand that the meditation is not meant to cause depression or breed attachment, so one must be careful with it. The practice is to focus on the impermanence of your partner by imagining their death. It’s done to remind us of how important our they are.  It’s meant to instill a deep sense of appreciation, not attachment or despair.

Meditation

Imagine for a few moments the death of your partner.  Imagine the chaos that would ensue in your life. The person who has filled the gaps in your life is gone.  They’ve shared responsibility for child rearing, feeding you, earning money, driving you when you aren’t able to, make sure that you’re taking your pills, watching your health, helping you figure out problems where you don’t have experience?  All that support is gone.

Once these superficial consequences have sunk in, explore a little deeper. Imagine what it will be like to never feel the touch of your partner’s hand on your body again. Never again will you hug them or laugh with them. You’ll never hear them say “I love you” or make love again. All of your stories as a couple will have been lived out.  There will be no more, “yesterday my partner did such and such” tales to offer your friends.

Gratitude

Without fail, these meditations bring me to tears. I well up with a deeper appreciation of my partner.  I am energized to set aside the contempt of familiarity and the resentment that I hold onto. I am able to recognize that the barriers in our relationship are choices that I make and not her faults. I can even sometimes muster the patience and openness to see things from her side.

Relationships are hard work, and they keep getting harder.  The worst enemy is replacing your loved ones with the preconceptions you develop about them.  We have to let go of these internal narratives, open our eyes, and see the beautiful person who you chose to spend your life with.

To my dear wife, who I take for granted, and ignore far too much, do know that I love you, that you are precious to me, and I am so grateful to have you in my life.

May all partners have causes for love and affection
May all partners be free from the mental formations that cause them to become alienated from one another
May they find ways to rejuvenate their relationships and themselves
May all couples find a path to fulfillment

Meditations on Gratitude - A weekly series of people and situations I’m thankful for and a short meditation. Get Each Week's Meditations on Gratitude In Your Email Box

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The post Meditations on Gratitude – Our Partners appeared on Andrew Furst.


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