During the holiday season I spent time with my grandparents, who I don’t see very often.
Due to an injury (my grandmother had a fall last year, and shattered a knee), they have been spending a lot more time together. Her lack of mobility and rehabilitation has had my grandfather having to care for her, and unfortunately, for a couple who have been together for so long, the tension is showing.
He is snipping at her. She is snipping at him. Meal times are a continual exchange of choppy communication, and from my perspective they are like dueling partners, with one person taking a swipe and then the other carefully choosing another moment to take a swipe back.
It certainly did not make for good holiday conversation.
My brother commented on it from his perspective. He felt that the problem stems from the fact that both are spending so much time together — and little time apart. My grandmother was active in croquet, and would be out of the house routinely for the day, playing local or state tournaments. Now, with the injury, she is unable to play, and thus remains at home.
There is the datum that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. But is it true that presence, thus, can cause friction and upset? I don’t think so.
Many relationships are built around being apart, and certainly in the Sea Org this is taken to the extreme, with partners routinely separately for extended periods of time, on different org schedules, or even posted on different continents. Does this improve a relationship? No — I don’t think so.
I have another sibling who was in the Sea Org for years, much of it separated from her husband, and they are now divorced. Relationships that have such breaks in closeness (proximity), always result in a lowered reality, and of course lowered communication.
Marriage counselors will recommend that couples each have their own hobbies, or classes, or sports activities – separate from the other. That they have their own time, doing their own things. Is the answer to a stressful relationship? No — I don’t think this is quite it either.
I spent quite some time talking to my grandmother, and eventually, also got to talk to my grandfather about the situation. About the hostilities and continued upsets with each other. And what the situation actually came down to was that each is nattery and critical about the other. On a daily basis they are committing little overts on the other, and having these missed. They are small things — but when all added together and piled up, they become the elephant standing in the middle of the room.
So how do you sort out two people who have spent such a long time together, are undoubtedly never going to walk their separate ways, but now want to poke each other’s eyes out?
I started off with the advice on the two rules for happy living:
1. Try not to do things to others that you would not like them to do to you, and
2. Try to treat others as you would want them to treat you. LRH The Way to Happiness
But even more simply — I told them to stop committing present time overts on each other. They don’t understand overts and are not Scientologists — but regardless of that, they have to stop adding to the pile. Stop making the elephant even bigger.
LRH gives the solution in the Marriage tape (in the State of Man Congress) of how to handle the overts and withholds that a couple build up. And on my next trip I will make an offer and see if I can get them into session with “What have you done to/withheld from Grandma?” and “What have you with done to/withheld from Grandpa?”
But in the mean time, if I can get them to adopt these basic principles, then life can become at least tolerable (for them and also us visiting relatives).