Shortly after we were married, we went to India and spent our honeymoon in ashrams and monasteries. We were fortunate enough to have a private meeting with the Dalai Lama at his residence in McCleod Ganj, in the foothills of the Himalayas.
“After some thirty minutes of talking I was feeling so moved by this gentle, simple, and loving man that I just wanted to stay there,” Ed recalls. “I didn’t want to leave! I was completely in love with the compassion and wisdom emanating from this delightful being. Finally, I said to His Holiness, ‘I don’t want to leave; I just want to stay here with you!’ I thought he would say yes, how wonderful, I see your sincerity, but instead he just smiled and said, ‘If we were together all the time, we would quarrel!’”
Now, after 30 years of working and living together, we can testify to that statement: we have been there, done that, and collected a whole range of tee shirts. We have also come up with some guidelines (although we prefer heartlines) that cover most of our inevitable ups and downs.
- Not to wobble at the same time. If one of us is getting wobbly, having a challenging moment, or is in need of being heard, then the other one puts their own stuff aside and is there, present, listening, receiving. One time, when were we both needing and wobbling at the same time, it meant there was no listening or receiving going on, so this ground rule has worked wonders for us.
- No shoulds, should nots, ought tos, or ought nots. This one came into play as we began to uncover many of the assumptions, role-playing, and conditioning that we both brought to our marriage from past experiences. This allows us the freedom to be who we are, to be accepted as we are, and to be as creative as we can be.
- The ceiling is both white and flat. If we are having an argument and we stop to see what is going on, then we often realize that we are both talking about the same thing, just looking at it from a different perspective. One of us is saying the ceiling is flat and the other is saying it is white, but it’s the same ceiling!
- We were married in Scotland at Samye Ling Monastery. Afterwards, the Abbot said to us that if we ever have a disagreement we should walk away form each other and consider what we had said that caused our partner to be so upset with us. This is about taking responsibility for our own words and behavior.
- Meditate. This has undoubtedly been the thread that weaves us together, the grace that reveals we are both worthy, and the endless well that constantly inspires, restores and renews us, both individually and together. We are quite sure that without meditation we would easily have retreated to opposite sides of the planet!