It was a warm August Sunday, the quietest time here in New York. Many who can, leave town. Temperature is in the high 80’s but thankfully it was less humid. Aaliyah and I were strolling through the beautiful rose garden outside the church with our dog, King Kong who loves the fresh air just like me. I suddenly noticed Kate sitting at a bench on the sidewalk and looking down at the cobblestone walkway. She appeared deep in thought. When we greeted her she was startled, but looked up and smiled. After exchanging pleasantries without any lead-in she asked me, “Bob is it possible to love someone whom you also hate?”
It was my turn to be startled. I knew the question was born out of years of pain, hurt and anger. She has been facing marital disharmony for a long time now. Anger held inside for a long time becomes hate. It deserved a thoughtful answer and I invited her to our place for dinner that evening. She agreed and Aaliyah and I continued our stroll. The question she asked did not go away. Later, as we drove home, we discussed it. We reflected on our early days which were like a roller-coaster ride and remembered that we often experienced feelings of hate. We condemned each other and hurt each other. So what made the difference for us?
It was the mutual choice to opt for love. We broke the pattern of demanding, expecting and criticizing as that would have destroyed the affection we had for each other. We started making decisions without ruining our unity. We started giving constructive suggestions rather than demanding from the other person.
Our situation was different because we both were open to learning and growing. But in Kate’s case it wasn’t so. No matter how much she worked on herself, her husband was unwilling to acknowledge the impending threat to their marriage, he continued to be in the same pattern without realizing he was losing her with every passing day. He often told her, “I don’t have any problems, it is your mind’s construct.” After 15 years of marriage her emotional energy was depleted and her self-esteem touched rock bottom. Was there hope in this marriage? Could she love the unlovely? Would he respond to her love?
Kate is a religious person and the only way was through her faith. In the evening when she joined us for dinner, I read an account of the life of Christ.
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; – (KJV) Matthew 5:44
… And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.” (KJV) Luke 6:31-32
Do to others as you would have them do to you. It is true that whatever happens to you is your responsibility. Ask yourself do you react or respond? Reacting is getting into the vicious cycle of despair and responding is from heart space, you take a pause and reflect upon what was said or done to you and take responsibility for the same before responding in a way you would want others to do to you, compassionately and lovingly.
I read further, as tears trickled down from her eyes, Aaliyah wiped them quietly and we three sat there feeling every word written almost two thousand years ago.
“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” – (KJV) Luke 6:37-38
Do you judge him all the time? Was he mistreating you from the beginning of the relationship? She nodded in negation and said, “He was loving and patient. I don’t remember when we both started judging each other and became disrespectful and abusive.“
So, let’s untie the knots in the heart first and listen to the hurt in the abuse. You may get a way through the cracks into his heart once again. He may see you as you are once again. Let’s give both of you sometime to listen and to love without conditions. If love is true, it is irrevocable and forever. So just be what you want him to be.
Kate was sobbing by now. Suddenly, she recalled all her good times, she realized she’d been harsh on her husband too, his love language was different from hers and she could have accepted that. She hugged me and Aaliyah before leaving and then as she was moving out of the front door she once again turned and smiled radiantly through her tears. She was accepting the challenge God gave her. She was once again choosing to love even if it were unlovely in the beginning.