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Friday, December 7, 2012

How Neutrality Saved My Marriage

In November of 2011, just over one year ago, my family and I were on a vacation in Maui.  We had planned to be there for a month, well, my mom, Chephren and I had anyway, and our husbands each joined in for 2-3 weeks.  In the months leading up to this trip, Trent and I had been struggling in our marriage, I mean REALLY struggling.  It seemed that each and every single conversation wound up leading to the 'D' word (that would be 'D' as in Divorce, not Disneyland).  It was a scary, scary few months and on more than one occasion I really thought that my marriage was truly over.

While in Maui, my mom and I had the good fortune to attend an event facilitated by Mirabai Devi - a healer and spiritual teacher.  Both my mom and I had a great experience and at the end of her session,  Mirabai invited individual questions to be put forth in a more private setting.  After I had tearfully expressed my gratitude for the profound shift that I had felt during her session, I confessed my fears about my marriage.  Her response was unexpectedly simple: 'When you are faced with conflict between you and your husband, go neutral and remember who you are.'

Huh?  I left in a bit of a daze, but her words stuck with me.  (How could they not, she left them inscribed in my book!) Over the next few days I became quite silent as I began to explore deep into the meaning of her message.

I am not sure if  I was able to truly grasp it then, but I knew on some level that her message was about trying to become an observer to my own emotions.  I needed to come into a place of non-reaction... or as she called it, neutrality.  I seemed to know even then that when an emotion arises within oneself, it cannot have come from anywhere else but from my own mind, my own experience, my own reality, and yet I constantly found myself projecting these emotions outward.  The story in my head sounded something like: 'My marriage would be so much happier if only Trent would...'

A few days after seeing Mirabai, my parents offered to watch Chephren so that Trent and I could go out on a date night (there are IMMENSE advantages to travelling with our child's Grandparents!)  We started off for the restaurant, electing to walk in the beautiful, warm ocean air.  Not five minutes into the walk, our conversation turned to conflict and there it was: a boiling, raging fury spilling into my belly and rising up into my throat.  Only this time, instead of allowing my words to erupt forth, I somehow managed to stop them.  I managed to get really present.  I observed what happening to me, in both my mind and my body.  And rather than spewing the venom that was desperate to come forward, I simply said: 'I am NOT reacting to this!'  Today I have to chuckle at these words, because I am very aware of the fact that my reaction was itself just that, a reaction, and in no way, shape, or form was it neutral.

But it was a start.  It was me saying, enough, I do not want to engage in these fights any longer.  I know that each and every time we enter into one of 'those' conversations there is an inevitable result... each of us will be cut down a little smaller, we will be a little more jaded, a little more hurt, a little more wounded, leaving us with an even bigger hole in our marriage.  In that moment, I chose to put down my weapon of choice; my words.

It took months for this new behaviour, this neutrality, to stick.  And to be honest, for the first few months, I will admit that I was almost entirely faking it.  I was, as they say adopting a 'fake it until you make it' attitude.  And it worked, eventually.

It worked because the truth is, those feelings that Trent's words awoke within me were MINE.  The reason that I reacted is because on some level, I believed them to be true.  This is what the journey inward is all about.  It is about accountability to YOURSELF.  It is about owning what is truly YOURS.  No one can make you feel a certain way, it is only you who allows them to do so.

And THAT is how neutrality saved my marriage... although having fun together and lots of lovin' helped too ;)

Much love to you on your journey, especially when you decide to journey inwards...

Maren xo



  1. Thank you for this post.
    I thought Nelson and I were rock solid....until we had CA. The combination of our totally differing views and our big mouths has led to too many "wars".
    The art of neutrality and the idea that the rage that wants to come out of me at Nelson is only my issue - not his - so helpful.
    It makes me sit down and think about why I have such reactions to his words and it's an interesting road to go down.
    If he knew you were the driving force behind my new changes he'd bring you banana bread and a high five! =)

    1. Rebecca,
      Thanks for the very honest reply, and I can totally relate to the arrival of you child rocking your marriage!
      While I love banana bread and high fives - it is you who deserves them. It takes a lot of courage to look inwards and release others from blame, but it is oh so worth it!
      If I can help you with this process in any way, please let me know. I would love to reconnect!
      Many Blessings to all three of you this holiday season!
      Maren xo

  2. I have recently separated from my fiance. We share 2 children that are biologically mine. I have been divorced twice...yes twice.
    I have connected that many of my choices in life have been driven by my past experiences. The way I was raised. The fears that have grown as I have grown. This New Year 2013 I want to re-program my brain. I have been volitile, abrasive,and negative.
    I have connected that so many of my choices in life were in connection to my extremely disfunctional relationship with my mother. Fear drove me and because of her abuse over 25 years of my life I have moved across the country to escape her, married and divorced 2 men and given birth twice in between, and the latest...I spent 4 years of my life getting a post secondary education hoping she would finally "SEE ME". The crushing truth was I am not good enough, but like you said maybe something about this is reasonating with me too. I have been suffering anxiety and panic attacks since my fiance has left. While this has been happening someone said to me "why don't you just be neutral?" In other words stop focusing on him and what he needs to do to fix this and start looking at you. In some ways I am afraid to really look at ME, because many of the skeletons are just to painful to look at yet.
    My mom constantly attacks me since my fiance leaving. He was in a greater sense my protection from her. Her disdain for me, her abusive words, her uncaring spirit has put me into a very dark place. Then I read your part "I AM NOT REACTING TO THIS" and something clicked...that is exactly what I need to do! With my mom, with my fears, with my fiance, with my life. You put the nail in the coffin when you said "NO ONE CAN MAKE YOU FEEL A CERTAIN WAY, IT IS ONLY YOU THAT ALLOWS THEM TO DO SO". Its only just sunk in and I will probably need to process and think about this. In the meantime "I AM NOT REACTING TO THIS" Thank you!

    1. @RMA
      What a beautiful and heartfelt response... thank YOU for sharing. Be patient with yourself and your skeletons... the first step towards healing is underway ;)
      If I can be of Service to you further please let me know. I would be happy to set aside some time to talk with you over the phone.
      All the best to you on your journey!