A 'friend' of mine just dumped his wife, who has basically been supporting him probably more than just financially. Without going into much detail, lets just say his thinking is not very clear. Anyway, I feel pretty bad for her as it came as quite a shock, and although they are probably just incompatible it just got me thinking along these lines, and I found this in the book The Heart of the Buddha by Chogyam Trungpa. I don't mean to post religiously oriented stuff which the word Buddha will no doubt trigger, but it is in fact quite down to earth and some out there may find it of interest. It's interesting as he contrasts a view based on hope of eternity and fear of death, and then notes a third way. That she didn't see it coming probably relates to the idea of hope of eternity, and he probably has been on the fear of death side for some time. These first quotes are on hope of eternity:
Many relationships are formed on the basis of some common pain or some shared task.
We tend to make a big deal of this pain or task: we make it the keepsake of the
relationship. Or else we meet someone in circumstances of lively common interest where
communication flows without obstacles and then we celebrate the smoothness as if
fending off a common enemy. Either way, the pain or the smoothness develops a
legendary quality in regard to the relationship.
The idea of eternity has been misunderstood; it has been used to prove the profundity of
our relationship, our deathless friendship. We tend to assume that something is going to
go on forever, and therefore we venerate it like someone might venerate a piece of rusty
fence wire known to have been hanging on a fence at a famous Civil War battle. We
venerate it for its eternity rather than for its profundity. Ironically, it actually becomes a
profound statement because of the basic truth of impermanence.
And this part is on fear of death:
Fearing the independent, spontaneous development of the relationship we try to ignore our actual emotions and independent will. Brave people do this semiconsciously by developing a sense of mission or dogma in the relationship. Cowardly people manage it as a subconscious twist.
In general the brave strategy is less successful than the cowardly in creating an "ideal" relationship. This dogmatic approach can only succeed by continually making a basically illogical position logically believable to the friend or partner. Then constant maintenance of the magnificent edifice is required. The less brave but more diligent do the whole work without ever confronting the partner on major issues. Instead he or she continually puts off the sense of death onto a thousand small things. The partner forgets to put the cap back
on the ketchup bottle, or always squeezes the toothpaste tube at the wrong end. The fault lies in all these little things.
In spite of philosophical and religious beliefs in eternity, there is a sense of constant threat of death, that ultimately the relationship is doomed. Whether cowardly or brave, we are trapped in that actual situation, making a constant patchwork in order to survive.
And on beyond hope and fear:
The idea of relationship needs to fall apart. When we realize that life is the expression of death and death is the expression of life, that continuity cannot exist without discontinuity, then there is no longer any need to cling to one and fear the other. There is no longer any ground for the brave or the cowardly. One sees that relationship is the lack of any viewpoint whatsoever.
We might think that such a relationship is only for the spiritually advanced, but actually it is just normal and ordinary. Any conceptual reference point becomes destructive. We actually begin to suspect that the relationship does not exist. But there is no need to worry: that nonexistence continues as a powerful breeding ground of further relationship. Such wariness is still a viewpoint, but it is one that is open to surprises, unlike living in the promise of eternity. It is also unlike complete mistrust, which does not allow the naivete' of relationship to flower. Whereas a covenant of trust breeds further mistrust, wariness of
trust can bring enormously warm and genuine relationships.
What Trungpa calls wariness of trust is simply relationship without the dogma of viewpoint, we might say living in an idea of relationship rather than IN relationship, just me and you and what's between us. It is like trying to conform the relationship into this conceptual box of how it's "supposed" be rather than just let things naturally be how they are inclined to be. This is not particularly smart if you look at it for what it is, you're simply not complicating the relationship with any kind of conceptual limitations, just being yourself, and letting the other person be who they are. You are actually doing less with your mind, so in a way perhaps not too "smart" for your own good, or the relationship's good for that matter.