Sunday, October 7, 2012

Memory is not a rewind button

In my previous post I talked about how we suffocate our spouses by making every request and rejection, an emotional moment. You give space with "Ask lightly, Answer lightly, Accept lightly." Let us understand this a little better.

Unless you are extra-ordinary and have a photographic memory, you don't remember anything that happened more than 5 minutes back - perfectly. Your memory is not like a video tape that you rewind and replay.

Kim's Game is a very simple game. Ask somebody to place twenty random objects on a tray and cover it with a cloth. Make them uncover the items in front of you for 15 seconds. See how many objects you can recollect. Few people are able to remember more than 5 or 6 items.

So what exactly do we remember. Our brain tends to remember moments when we are feeling strong emotions. Moments when we were afraid, angry, guilty happy. (Our brain tends to remember "negative" emotions more easily). It remembers the emotions not what was actually said. Think back about an incident when you were very angry with your spouse. You probably remember the emotions sharply, but will not remember the actual words used during the discussion.

This is the way our brain works. When we are first married or early in the relationship we agree with our spouse. We tend to feel and remember positive emotions. As I discussed in Accepting your wife in Marriage, no two people are alike. This means that sooner or later, we try to get our spouse to behave the way we think is "right". And if our spouse refuses to accept or agree, we feel angry. If our spouse asks us to do something we agree angrily or refuse guiltily. Refusals makes our blood boil. So pretty soon the only things we remember about our spouse are negative emotions.

If you make a request and if a refusal will upset you, you are constraining the other person. Make your request with an open mind willing to accept an honest answer. You will create space for the other person.

When the other person makes a request, reply honestly. Sometimes we suppress our genuine feeling and make a reply that we hope will make our spouse happy. However, we feel constrained and unhappy. This unhappiness is what we will remember. If we express our innermost feelings and encourage our spouse to express their honest opinions we give each other freedom.

Accept the answer lightly, a "no" is not a betrayal. If the matter is important for you, share the reasons. If you feel angry about the no, you are simply creating a pile of unhappy memories about your spouse.

Read and Re-Read the Nambudiri Funda, it has many important lessons.

Does this mean that we behave as if we are not married. No, but that is a discussion for another post.


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