The KEY Questions: What if we ‘backslide?”

What would you consider to be the clearest indicators that a couple’s relationship is in trouble? Would you guess a breakdown in communication, maybe unresolved sexual problems leading to silly rows? The clues might be even more ‘domestic’ in nature. He continues to leave his mark on the toilet seat, despite dire warnings on her part, while she constantly forgets to put the top back on the sauce bottle. Is this the stuff divorces are made of?

How about constant fights and arguments, lasting for hours on end, during which voices are raised, objects are smashed, and the neighbours end up calling the police? That’s more like it, wouldn’t you agree? These two are in desperate need of an intervention.

The story didn’t happen to me, but I have it on good authority, and I can testify to similar scenarios in my own practice. A colleague of mine held a four-day retreat to teach the Three Principles, and how an understanding of them can dramatically improve your life. One of the attendees confessed to having a relationship problem, (actually not so much a problem as a full-scale conflict like the one described above). If this man didn’t find a solution fast it wouldn’t be just his relationship that ended up getting broken but possibly several bones into the bargain.

Over the course of the four days the man’s inner demons (or to put it less dramatically his negative thoughts) began to quieten down. Those nagging doubts and fears that had plagued him gradually fell away as he connected with his innate wisdom. He slowly came to realise that he was creating his own reality through thought. In fact there was nothing in his own or his wife’s psyche that needed fixing, and as for their relationship, it would be fine, (since a ‘relationship’ is not a ‘thing’ remember). All he had to do, in fact, was have a shift in his own consciousness. His partner didn’t even have to hear the message. The insight he was being handed would be enough to get their marriage back on track.

He went back to his wife a changed man, and sure enough hostilities ceased overnight. But a month later he was on the phone demanding his money back. He and his wife had rowed again, and by the sound of it this time it was game over.

Leaving aside for a moment the contractual or legal implications of refunding money for services rendered, did the man have a point? Did this new understanding that he had learned about the nature of our perceptions amount to just another parlour trick, a bit of homely advice to be mulled over then forgotten, the equivalent of a hug and a nice bowl of chicken soup?

His teacher wanted more information. He asked how long the row lasted. “About fifteen minutes”, came the answer. Were voices raised? “Not really”. Were objects thrown across the room and smashed? “No.” Did the neighbours have to call the police to break it up? “Er… no.” This seemed, by any standards, like a marked improvement on before, yet the man persisted in feeling that divorce proceedings must be underway. In fact they weren’t, and things between the couple continued to improve over time.

None of us are perfect, in our daily lives or in our relationships. Not long ago my wife Anna and myself were both struck down by a nasty bout of flu at the same time. Now, I’m happy to say that we have a great relationship, one that has only grown over the years since I first began to see the truth of the Principles and teach them myself. On this occasion however, we happened to be lying in bed long after it was time for one of us to get up and feed our kids. An argument brew up over who had the highest temperature, the prize for the ‘winner’ being the right to lie in. (Needless to say I ‘lost’). Later on I felt bad and apologised for the ‘row’, but Anna didn’t see it that way. She didn’t remember either of us getting cross.

The truth is that when we achieve a higher state of consciousness and a petty conflict arises, it only seems as if we’ve fallen back to ‘Square One’. The conflict looks far worse than it really is, simply because of the distance we’ve travelled.

(And by the way Anna, if you’re reading this, I was robbed!)