I Want To Make You Happy, So I Can Be Happy
My husband can be a bit of a grump.
He’s also a lovely man and wonderful father, however the stresses of life definitely affect his mood. For example, my youngest daughter years ago came up with a story in which we each lived on our own islands. My island had rainbows and unicorns and special showers you could stand under and hearts would rain down and wash all your worries away. Daddy’s island was way off on its own and had volcanoes and clouds and a long bridge to it, and you had to be sure the volcanos weren’t going off before you crossed the bridge.
For years I used to think, if only I could make him happy, then I could be happy. I would even wait until he got up to see how I was going to feel that day. I blamed my unhappiness on him. His mood affected me so much, I started to resent him for it.
Even though there was certainly a lot of working on himself he needed at that time, I was giving him the power to determine my internal experience. I was still under the hypnosis that someone else could make me happy. One of the most common and damaging ways of relating is to believe someone else the source of your fulfillment. When you believe your happiness is dependent on the behavior of another, you are no longer in control of your inner state.
This is one of the ways controlling habits begin in a relationship, even loving control. Our loved ones must keep acting in the way that initially gave the experience of a unity wave, and if they diverge, it is tempting to apply pressure to keep the waves coming.
That sense of unity we feel from love is a recognition of Self in another, it is a self-referral experience. When we meditate, our awareness is going directly to that source. We are soaking up so much unity in each meditation, we lose the dependency on others.
The ironic thing is that by losing the dependency, you gain in actual love, the healthy kind of love that doesn’t apply conditions and lets other people be whatever they need to be. Now instead of extracting “love” from another, love is something we have inside that we get to share with another.
My husband still has his little temper tantrums and times of stewing. The difference is now, rather than thinking all about how it’s affecting me, I see his experience as separate from me, and think about what I can do to take some of the burden off of him. Rather than bathing him in my disapproving glares, I respond with compassion. What goes through my head is not, “ugh, this is such childish behavior, why is he doing this again to me, we’ve talked about this,” it’s more like, “oh, his nervous system is dysregulated, what around here is triggering him that I can alleviate.”
I don’t want anyone who is in an abusive relationship to read this and think that they are the ones that need to change and their partner is fine as they are. If a partner’s behavior becomes extreme, it is even more important to know your fulfillment is not dependent on anyone else so you can more easily remove yourself from the situation.
This applies beyond just romantic partnerships. Inner fulfillment brings a certain invincibility that prevents anyone from getting under your skin.
I still want my partner to be happy. But now I know the best way to help him with that is for me to be happy myself, which has nothing to do with him.