Sunday, October 21, 2012

Giving up Tennis

In my previous post I was discussed how most people treat their marriage as a Tennis game.

In Relationship Tennis you are trying to dominate your spouse and get them to behave as per your concept of the perfect spouse. If you are uncomfortable or unhappy in your relationship with your spouse, the first and most important step is to stop playing Relationship Tennis. Not easy. This post is about how you can stop playing Relationship Tennis.

As I discussed in depth in my post Accepting your Wife in Marriage I decided that I want to improve my relationship with Vandana. When I talked to her about it, she thought it was one more strategy I was using in my Relationship Tennis. When I asked her what would convince her that I was serious, she threw me a challenge. The challenge was very simple, she said, "You never make the bed, for the next one year make the bed everyday and I might be willing to believe you." So the first step on the journey was that for one year I made the bed everyday.

"Learning has not happened till behavior has changed" - Pikes Fourth Law. This is the critical point to remember, if you want to prove to your spouse that you have learnt something or believe in something. Stop talking to them about it, change your behavior, it is the most convincing argument possible. By making the bed everyday for one year - (and I continue to make the bed :-) ), I convinced Vandana I wanted to change.

What are the behaviors you have to change to stop playing relationship Tennis? Silence and Violence - The forehand and backhand of relationship Tennis.
Silence - a sulky and angry silence with furrowed brow, avoiding eye contact.
Violence - Physical, mental or emotional. Putting down ideas and goals, by treating them as childish or silly. Trying to hurt the ego.

Whenever you find yourself doing either of these, you are back to playing relationship Tennis. It is very difficult to put the racket down and refuse to hit the ball when the other person keeps serving the ball and screaming "Ace". But you need to focus on your goal of not playing Relationship Tennis.

Vandana decided that she would improve her spiritual knowledge by attending religious discourses. When I was still playing Tennis I used to sneer at this. Argue fiercely about how this was stupid and foolish. When I started playing the Madison instead of Tennis, I simply accept it as one of the goals and see how to help her achieve it.

Vandana wanted to take ten days off and go along with her parents to Haridwar to listen to some discourses. She is the primary care-giver for my parents who live with us. Instead of looking for reasons why it was impossible for her to go, I worked with her to see how she could go.

Relationship Tennis is bit like smoking. It is very hard to give up. I have managed to give up both. Occassionally I backslide in both :-)

Has Vandana stopped playing Tennis. I don't even think of it. If you start wondering and thinking about it, you have started playing Tennis again. I want to give up and that is what I am focusing on.


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