While traveling around the East Coast this summer, I met with a friend I haven’t seen in over 20 years. We had a short window of time to catch up; we shared a quick synopsis of where life had led each of us over the years. I’ve been mulling over something she said for months now.
What did she say? You ask.
During the course of this exchange, when thinking of her husband, my friend paused, sighed, and with a slight chuckle said,
“Well, for me, I am his Zen.”
This statement caused me to pause, as I felt an imaginary yarn needle poking me on the left side of my back…just above my hip. I thought to myself, “I’ve never heard anyone say something so sweet, yet so satisfying, and with such confidence in her relationship with her spouse.”
It seems to me there are several levels of relating in marriage relationships.
There is a way of relating that brings a bit of frustration between partners that goes like this: “I married you, and now I want to change you, preferably into the image I think you should be for me.” Setting aside the whole idea that perhaps this individual was made in God’s image and already has a creator, each spouse tries to recreate his/her ‘lover’ into their own image.
Yep…been there, done that.
Then there is a style of relating that is somewhat successful, which goes something like this, “I let him be him, and he lets me be me,” a gracious, and mild acceptance of the other, that can sometimes feel like the spouse is held at arm’s length.
Yet there is another relationship style that recognizes each spouse as an individual endowed with a generous heaping of respect for the gifts and differences and has a great appreciation for their partner, an unconditional acceptance, delights in who his or her partner is, and wouldn’t want them to be any other way. The ingredient of delight in what each partner brings to the relationship makes the difference.
The sunny day my friend shared, “I am his Zen,” I knew I had heard something I always believed to be true, but had rarely seen. My friend’s words helped me to see a real example of yet another level of relating; a love that is not easily found, a kind of love that is really out there.
A few words come to mind when I think of the word Zen: The yin to my yang, that which brings balance, a place of comfort, rest, and peace in the paradox of one’s being. I’m sure you could add a few words, too. Still, I was quietly stunned by my friend’s words, because she absolutely knew what she brought to her spouse…her uniqueness and differences were valued, appreciated, needed, a joy and ultimately a place of rest and refreshment to the person she cared for the most.
In closing, I keep thinking of Brene Brown’s words from an interview she gave, she said, “Love is not something you get; it’s something you nurture.” This…this way of investing and appreciating a partner is one of the great joys found in life, and if I were being honest, I think it is something we all want. I’m so happy my friend found it! How cool is that?