Level 5 Judgment
Relationships at this level are characterized by superficial politeness but underlying disapproval. Even when partners strongly disagree, they do so without expressing intense emotion or personal reactions. Disharmony may express in a more subtle form as teasing, making fun of one another, mockery or sarcasm.
At this level partners do not openly disagree on every issue or frequently quarrel over major and minor things, but they still constantly judge one another and quietly find fault with their partner's behavior. Judgment is a mental faculty and the very nature of the mind is to find differences and accentuate them. It's a perpetual perfectionist with respect to other people's behavior, though it applies more lenient standards to itself. We all like to think that our judgments are rational, reasonable, objective and unbiased. But the truth is that virtually every opinion and conclusion we formulate is based on our own prior assumptions, preferences, attitudes and points of view.
The idea that other people should accept and conform to our opinions, attitudes, preferences and habits is a fundamental misconception that undermines the harmony and stability of many relationships. The basis of harmony is tolerance, adjustment, compromise and, most of all, patience. A relationship is not private property. It is a public domain, a commons, shared by two people. Love and romance do not come from finding a person who is similar to you or agrees with you on every issue. It comes from finding someone whom you can accept, respect and cherish in spite of and because of the natural and inevitable differences that distinguish you from one another. We do not find fulfillment in relationship by cloning ourselves. Our partner can only fulfill us by supplementing, completing and complementing our character and nature with what we lack.
Verbal and non-verbal combat are a way of life in some relationships. There is a constant struggle of wills and underlying tension between the partners that permeates all aspects of their relationship. In some relationships the combat is open warfare that can be heard down the block. In others, it takes the form of a subtle exchange of quips and glances that communicates disapproval or disdain for our partner's conduct. The Bennets conducted their turf battles silently and politely, but their relationship was warfare nonetheless.
When he married her two decades earlier, Mrs. Bennet was the beautiful, vivacious daughter of a wealthy country lawyer. Swept away by her lively cheerful personality, Mr. Bennet overlooked her lack of education and intelligence and the differences in culture between their families. He was the son of a landed aristocrat with a substantial property to manage. A thoughtful, educated, intelligent man, who preferred the company of a good book in the quiet of his library to the chattering gossip that occupied his wife and their five daughters. Having been raised in gentility, Mr. Bennet had not anticipated that his marriage would become a constant battle of wills between him and his wife. Although she obeyed him in all important matters, she worked incessantly behind his back and under his nose to have things her own way. They have common goals and problems, but do not attempt to work together. They need to get their five daughters married and cannot afford to give dowry, but they are always busy fighting one another. She is always taking initiatives, many of which are inappropriate, never paying any attention to her husband's sound advice. Although normal custom at the time required that the elder daughters be married before the younger could start mixing in public, Mrs. Bennet took a liberal view and succeeded in freeing even fifteen year old Lydia to gallivant with the handsome young military officers in town. She prodded and plagued her husband till he reluctantly agreed to arrange introductions to the wealthy young neighbor, Bingley, who moved into the area. Mr. Bennet knows that doing so could open up an opportunity for his daughters, but refuses simply because his wife orders him to. When Bingley calls at their home seeking to be introduced to his five lovely daughters, Mr. Bennet speaks with Bingley but never calls his wife and daughters into the room. Her husband is more preoccupied with stymieing his wife's initiatives than getting his daughters married. When she and her daughters attend a party where Bingley is present, he hopes his wife will return disappointed by the outcome. What is important is his own petty victory over his wife.
In every act throughout the day, their rivalry plays itself out. She connived with Mr. Collins to force their second daughter, Elizabeth, into a ridiculous marriage alliance, without prior warning to either her daughter or her husband. She pressed so insistently that he reluctantly permitted Lydia to travel to Brighton, where she eloped with a scoundrel and nearly ruined herself and the whole family. She constantly worries about their future, he constantly mocks and makes jokes at her expense. Their entire day is spent in her efforts to dominate and his to undermine her in issues great and small. Being quiet and cultured by temperament, Mr. Bennet never once raises his voice in loud protest against his wife's incessant interference and foolish initiatives. He responded only by a quiet mocking sarcasm which she was not intelligent enough to even understand. He enjoyed teasing her and laughed at her irritation and frustration.
To raise your relationship to a higher level of harmony, see Strategies to Increase Harmony in Your Relationship
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