Ever since we have taken a weekend course called “Loving Yourself and Others”, my husband and I are both “evolved” in theory, meaning that we accept that we choose how we feel. Nobody can hurt us without our permission, and no one is making us feel a certain way. It’s all in our control. We choose to not say things like “you hurt my feelings” anymore. We both decided to adopt the philosophy that one does not have that much power over the other. If I say “I am hurt by what you said”, what I really mean is “I am choosing to feel hurt by what you said”.
It’s a philosophy that is great in theory, but can be challenging to practice at times. Last Sunday, I had an argument with my husband. Just like a normal spousal mini-fight, it started out with a silly stuff about father’s day gift, and it sort of led to something more serious. Now, one thing about my husband is that he is very analytical type, and he actually enjoys having a conversation with me after we had an argument as to what had happened. He even takes notes on what I say during the “recap”. I don’t enjoy this process as much as he does – he thinks it’s great that we can have this conversation like grown ups, instead of just screaming at each other or not talk about it at all. While I agree with him at an intellectual level that we should clear up any unresolved issues by talking it over, it is a process that is not fun for me to go through. Last Sunday, when we had the argument I mentioned, he asked me why I didn’t enjoy discussing about it, and I said something like “because I feel like I am loved less (when we have that after-fight talk)”. It may sound corny and even silly, but that was how I chose to feel that time. I suppose that the reason why I don’t particularly enjoy the after-argument-recap is because when we go back and take a closer look at what triggered certain emotions in me, I have to face certain things about myself that are hard to admit or accept. While I am keenly aware of the fact that I am not perfect, I do not have a good acceptance of that fact and therefore suffer from the gap between the level of self-awareness and self-acceptance. It’s really not a good place to be, because I know what I did wrong, and I judge myself negatively for it . Having someone I love point out some of my flaws makes me feel (or rather, I chose to feel) like “he now loves me less, and that must be why he is pointing out how imperfect I am”.
That’s when he said the quote “The opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference”. In his mind, he is expressing his love for me when he takes the time to go through step by step, trying to understand what went wrong, by clarifying the words we used, even by looking them up on-line (this time we looked up the word “honor” in wikipedia) because our mother tongue are different and we sometimes have a communication breakdown due to different interpretations of a word. He gently reminded me that if he did not love me, he would not even care to go through this process so we can do better next time. As much as I hated to say “You are right” at that time, I had to admit that he is. I used to work for the United Nations, and I firmly believe that indifferent is the cause of many problems in the world; Ignorance coming from indifference, and vice versa. That’s why I make the point of doing a volunteer work for the San Diego Women’s Foundation and try to contribute in making positive changes to others’ lives, because in the end, it’s not all about me. I can still be happy because my happiness is not depending on other people, but I will be happier if I can make a positive contribution to the world. Making a positive contribution always starts with being curious about what is going on and getting to know the cause of the issue. If you break down the process of all the movements for social justice, it starts with getting to know what a person in front of you is feeling. What my husband was displaying is nothing but genuine curiosity and love for me. I assume that it will probably continue to be a challenge for me to truly enjoy the argument caused by a difference of opinions. Just because something is true, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. But this quote will help me remind myself how much I am loved.