“Defense is the first act of war. When people used to say, “Katie, you don’t listen,” I would immediately bristle and respond, “Of course I listen! How dare you say that! Who do you think you are? I listen!” I didn’t realize that I was the one making war by defending myself. And I was the one who could end it. It doesn’t take two people to end war; it takes only one.
The ego hates criticism and loves agreement. Actually, for the ego, love is nothing more than agreement. A relationship is two people who agree with each other’s stories. If I agree with you, you love me. And the minute I don’t agree with you, the moment I question one of your sacred beliefs, I become your enemy; you divorce me in your mind. Then you start looking for all the reasons why you’re right, and you stay focused outside yourself. When you’re focused outside and believe that your problem is caused by someone else, rather than by your attachment to the story you’re believing in the moment, you are your own victim, and the situation appears to be hopeless.
Your partner is your mirror. Except for the way you perceive him, he doesn’t even exist for you. He is who you see he is, and ultimately it’s just you again, thinking. It’s just you, over and over and over, and in this way you remain blind to yourself and feel justified and lost. To think that your partner is anything but a mirror of you is painful. So when you see him as flawed in any way, you can be sure that that’s where your own flaw is. The flaw has to be in your thinking, because you’re the one projecting it. You are always what you judge us to be in the moment. There’s no exception. You are your own suffering; you are your own happiness.
There’s no way to truly join your partner except by getting free of your belief that you need something from him that he’s not giving. Nothing can cost you someone you love. There’s nothing your husband can possibly do to keep you from loving him. The only way you can lose him is by believing what you think. You’re one with your husband until you believe that he should look a certain way, he should give you something, he should be something other than what he is. That’s how you divorce him. Right then and there, you have lost your marriage.
Of course, sometimes it’s best to physically leave. If your husband is abusive, question your thoughts about why you stay. As you enlighten yourself to what’s true, you may come to see that the only sane choice is to leave him. You may love him with all your heart and simply know not to live with him. We don’t have to be fearful, bitter, or angry to end a marriage. Or, if you’re not ready to leave, you may stay in the marriage, but with a greater awareness of how you’re abusing yourself by allowing him to abuse you. It’s like a yard with a big sign on the gate: THIS DOG BITES. If you walk into the yard once and are bitten, the dog has bitten you. If you walk into the yard a second time and are bitten, you have bitten you. This very awareness can change everything. By questioning your mind, you begin to realize that ultimately no one can hurt you—only you can. You see that you are 100 percent responsible for your own happiness. This is very good news.
If my husband were to have an affair and that were not okay with me, I would say, “Sweetheart, I understand that you’re having an affair, and I notice that when you do that, something inside me tends to move away from you. I don’t know what that is, I only know that it’s so; it mirrors your movement away from me, and I want you to know that.” And then if he were to continue his affair, to prefer to spend his time with another woman, I might notice that I was moving away, but I wouldn’t have to leave him in anger. There is nothing I can do to stay with him, and there is nothing I can do to divorce him. I’m not running this show. I might stay with him, or I might divorce him in a state of total love, and think, This is fascinating; we promised we would be together always, and I’m divorcing him now, and I would probably laugh, love that he has what he wants, and move on, because there is no war in me.
It doesn’t take two people to end war in a marriage; it takes only one. And if two people have ended it, life can be twice as beautiful."
- Byron Katie