Level 1 Opposition
Relationships at this level are characterized by shouting, mean accusations, deceit, and threats or actual acts of violence. Disharmony can increase in negative intensity until even an insignificant act, a casual word or glance triggers a chain of unpleasant reactions, acrimony or hostility.
Relationships become strained to the breaking point when partners exhibit offensive or mean behavior that intentionally or unintentionally hurts the other person. No positive relationship can ever be built by conscious meanness or intentionally inflicting pain, no matter how justified we may feel in 'hitting back'.
Partnerships at this level are caught in a destructive blame game in which the main objective is to find fault with the other person and put them down. All relationships are based on intensity. We feel intense about people who matter to us. No intense feelings arise when we are not closely related in feeling with the other person. The mother scolds her child who misbehaves, another's child doing the same does not elicit the same reaction. It is her concern for her child that comes out as scolding. Similarly, when a strong negative intensity is visible on the surface, it shows that there is a deeper attraction underneath. A couple living in the slums of Mumbai invariably quarreled every night after the husband returned from work. When the husband suddenly died of heart attack, a few days later his wife also died because she simply could not live without him. Attraction that expresses negatively can be converted into positive intensity. Indifference is the opposite of relationship. It is indifference that is more difficult to change. Disharmony on the surface is proof that there is scope for creating harmony.
Blaming one's partner for bad manners or offensive behavior never solves the problem. It only provides a very temporary satisfaction to the ego which inevitably prompts reaction and retribution. Putting another person down and gloating over one's success is a sure formula for a failed relationship. It takes two people to dance but only one to improve a relationship. Inevitably each partner blames the status quo on the other and expects the other to change first. That never happens. Relationships improve only when one of the partners resolves to take unilateral initiative and sticks to that resolution. The first thing necessary is for one of the partners to totally eliminate any and all expressions of meanness or spitefulness without expecting or demanding any change in the other partner. That effort is sure to bring about a substantial improvement in the relationship for as long as it is maintained. If it fails, it is only when the habit or urge to fall back overcomes the commitment to be positive.
Many people enjoy the intensity that comes from complaining, quarreling and even from getting angry. As long as you enjoy it, it will continue and grow more intense. Others have a way of relating negatively to the very person they find most attractive to get their attention or assert their own value. If you are experiencing intense disharmony in your relationship, try to become conscious of the underlying attraction that expresses as negative intensity between you. Often anger is a disguise for feelings of not being loved, respected or appreciated. Try to shift your attention from the sources of quarrel to the sources of attraction. Even when you feel most intensely negative, remind yourself it is only an inversion of a deeper positive attraction and need for one another. Negative intensity can be addictive because it makes us feel alive and it is easier to generate than positive intensity. Adopt at least one strategy for generating positive intensity in the relationship and work seriously to achieving it.
Scarlett & Rhett (Gone with the Wind)
Rhett and Scarlett are a classic example of a relationship based on intense energy and turbulence, which never manages to become stable and harmonious. The partners go through brief periods of pleasantness, interspersed with frequent quarrels and occasional violence. Both are high energy, head strong, selfish and opinionated people who look for fulfillment from relationship by taking rather than giving and end up frustrated, empty and disappointed. Scarlett is immature, impulsive, self-centered and totally selfish. That leaves no scope for harmony, let alone the romance she so passionately longs for.
Both harmony and romance require self-giving, accommodation and patience. Rhett tried to win the heart and possess the body of a woman he knows is in love with someone else by providing her the financial security and luxuries she longed for. Gifts and material security may satisfy a customer in a business relationship, but it is not enough to win the heart of an intimate partner. Scarlett thought merely of taking what suited her from the relationship and simply ignoring the rest as far as possible.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
The degeneration of a marriage from harmony to violence and its remarkable recovery are humorously depicted in the spoof thriller Mr. and Mrs. Smith. After six years of polite and seemingly harmonious marriage, Jane and John Smith suddenly discover that they really do not know each other at all. Both feel betrayed when they find that their spouse has concealed fundamental truths about themselves. When distrust, suspicion and fear compound their difficulties, the relation lapses into violence and a seeking for vengeance, in spite of the fact that each is still intensely attracted to the other. Eventually they learn to accept and admire each other's true personalities and reunite more happily and genuinely than before. Though the story is pure fiction, the process and stages of relationship they undergo resemble the course of some relationships that drop to level 1 and then ultimately recover.
Serge & Josephine (Chocolat)
Serge and Josephine Muscat own a small tavern in a small town in rural France. He is uneducated, stupid and brutal. She has intelligence and refined taste but has been reduced to fearful submission by Serge's heavy-handed, authoritarian dominance and the conservative values of the society in which they live. When Serge drinks, he is likely to take out all his bitterness, frustration and disappointment in life on Josephine, occasionally even becoming violent. The arrival of a newcomer, the spirited, independent-minded Vianne Rocher gives Josephine the strength and courage to stand up to her brute husband and cast off his oppressive domination. Soon Serge repents his violent, dominating behavior and promises to reform, but Josephine seems bent on freedom. Violence destroys not only harmony. It undermines the very foundation of trust and security that is the bedrock of human relationship.
To raise your relationship to a higher level of harmony, see Strategies to Increase Harmony in Your Relationship
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