How to survive living with others

“In that long time of captivity I had also come to know all the many people that were in me. Here again, I saw the same: many different qualities in each man and each of them looking and seeking for expression. Though we were all different, our shared suffering had made of us a collective community. We sought to complement each other, to understand the different aspects of each others’ personalities and meet with them meaningfully. By so doing we were always aware of each others’ mood swings and frustrations. […] But as I came to know each of them in the confines of this room, I began to re-understand that each man’s humanity and capacity to love expresses itself in different forms. In those sharing moments I discovered qualities that were lacking in myself.

[…]

The squabbling, when it did come, came over insignificant things. Always it is the case that when the mind is empty or tired or when like a child we need to be fed, we cry out in tantrums. Some men needed to be proved right to gain a small victory over their neighbour. It was a means of restoring identity. We all needed these things and we sometimes turned squabbling like hungry birds fighting over crumbs. At other times we realised the pettiness and futility and turned away embarrassed.” – Brian Keenan, An Evil Cradling

The above excerpt provides advice on sustaining a marriage, or any other relationship that involves living closely with another:

  • We have many different qualities in each of us. We can be inconsistent.
  • We should understand these qualities and
  • meet with them meaningfully (i.e. not to pick a fight).
  • We must be aware of our own and their moods and frustrations.
  • We should seek to understand their expression of love.
  • We should discover qualities to learn from.
  • We should not care too much about squabbles.
  • Remember that both of you are a collective community.

All in all, we should seek to understand another, with patience and an open heart.

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