As soon as there is a big trauma, because we suffer each in our own way and often incompatibly, we suffer incompatibly. We are in our survival dance. Each one of us surviving in the relationship because we don’t know how to welcome each other inside of the depth of these emotions. And so the survival dance intensifies and we feel like maybe we can’t be together.
In our life together, there have been many challenging times. One of the most difficult for me occurred when Yumi and I faced together the adventure of Yumi’s heart attack and quadruple bypass operation. Each time destiny gave us a life and death challenge, we have seized the opportunity to learn to say a bigger YES! to life…
The year is 1942. The place is Nice in the South of France. These words were spoken by my mother. She and my father were in hiding in a cellar with 5 other Jewish people. They found out that the Nazis were coming into Nice. My mother engineered a plan. She would get out of hiding and go see a doctor. She told the doctor the following: “I have come to ask for your help. Could you sign a certificate that my husband is gravely ill, and needs to be transported to a hospital in Cannes. Give us an ambulance, a driver, nurse’s uniforms so that we can escape.”
The doctor was a good man. He listened compassionately. And then he said: “I cannot give you the certificate you are asking for. I signed the Hippocratic Oath and cannot lie about a patient. Your husband isn’t ill.”
And that is when my mother told him: “You are right, My husband isn’t ill. Humanity is ill. Seven people, me included, will die of the illness of humanity.”
Couples universally dance a classic “survival dance”. You may identify when you read this fable of the “turtle and the hailstorm.” However, with steady and regular crossing of the bridge, looking into each other’s faces with new eyes, the reactive survival dance dissolves, and makes room for what relational neurobiologist Daniel Siegel calls “the flow of FACES”, a system that is Flexible, Adaptive, Coherent, Energized and Stable…
A life in connection is a life of appreciation. Gratitude is a very important relationship skill that must be strengthened daily. Make a practice of saying a deep inner “thank you” every hour of the day. And carve out a sacred moment of gratitude with your partner. Say: “What I am most grateful for in having you in my life is …..”
On April 13, 1965, Yumi and I got married.
In this picture, we are on our way to our honeymoon in Hong Kong.
We are now in our 55th year of marriage, and what have we learned?…