Experiential, Nonexpert Opinions and Advice

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Rule Book

One of the most insightful things I learned in my yoga training from my mentor Mynx was that we all carry around our own Rule Books. We have our own set of rules that govern the way we live each day. My Rule Book is individual, it is mine, and it is different from yours.

When my ex and I were in marriage counseling it became clear to me that his moral compass had changed. It was certainly different from mine. But at one point (or many points) in time we seemed to have shared a moral compass.

During a good portion of our marriage we both agreed that:

  • Marriage was a sacred vow
  • Infidelity was not acceptable
  • The kids took the highest priority
  • Kindness and respect for one another was paramount
  • Work and social life was important, but not more important than our relationship
You get the idea...

We saw some of our dear friends going through separation and divorce. We talked at length about it and vowed it could never happen to us. We were better communicators, we were more in love, we were more faithful, more devoted to our family, more honest with each other, etc.

I thought we were playing by the Same Rule Book. Or, at least a very similar one.

But then life went on and near the end of the marriage he confided in me that he had been "unhappy for the last ten years of our marriage and miserable for the last three." A few months later I found evidence of his infidelity and now we are divorced. That was five and one half years ago.

I am still saddened, hurt and confused why his moral compass and Rule Book changed so drastically from mine. I've done a lot of work on myself these past five years and know more about my personality type (#2, The Helper, on the Enneagram scale and Blue on Color Code) and I learned more about his personality type (#8, The Challenger and Red). I know why my Rule Book is what it is, and I know that it's terribly difficult to be with someone who has a vastly different set of Rules than I.

It still confounds me, however, that people can change their Rules so dramatically.

  • Marriage was a sacred vow became "I broke a social contract."
  • Infidelity was not acceptable became "I'm no longer in love with you and she fills my needs."
  • The kids took the highest priority became "Why do you pay more attention to the kids than to me?"
  • Kindness and respect were replaced with cruelty and the ultimate disrespect.
There's no guaranteed happy ending here, but just an acknowledgement that we each carry around our own Rule Books and live by them. We are also editing and re-writing the rules as we go. Life changes, our Rules change.

I guess the idea is to surround yourself with people who share similar Rule Books, but also know that at any time, without warning, they can update and change their Rules.

In yoga we are reminded to Live Our Truth. Your truth may be a drastic edit of your Rules (as it was for my ex). Your truth may be confronting a loved one who re-wrote his or her rules. Your truth may be supporting the loved one no matter what his or her rules are. Your truth may simply be standing by your original set of Rules. Your truth may change daily.

And, if you have children, know that they are designing their Rule Books based on what you model in yours.

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