While doing the happy baby pose in yoga class today I looked at my husband and wondered whether this will really bring us together, resolve our conflicts and save the world. I know, I have high aspirations. The saving the world part is a bigger project but feeling more connected would be nice.
Yoga was my husbands idea. As a counsellor I always want to talk things out. Once after a particularly challenging day of trying to lay 80 pound patio stones together (picture doing a puzzle with someone when you each have a different picture in your mind.) Later, after swearing, sweating, grunting and fighting all day, I uttered his favourite sentence, “can we talk about what happened today?” His response was, “how did you feel when we were hefting those stones around?” I said, “frustrated, annoyed and overwhelmed, I had a sick feeling in my stomach the whole time.” “Hmmm” he said, “that’s exactly how I feel when you say we need to talk about things.”
Often we disagree about parenting decisions. The phrase “can I give you some feedback on your parenting choice” has become an ongoing joke in our family. Once uttered through clenched teeth after one of us passed a frozen coffee drink to our three-year old in the back seat of the car on the start of a three hour road trip (ok it was me but I didn’t think she would give it back empty!)
My husbands solution to resolving marital discord is to do what guys do and “race each other around the block, wrestle, slap each other on the ass and be done with it”. The thought of going to counselling together is his worst nightmare. Yoga is a compromise. Doing something physical that doesn’t involve talking or sex.
The first few classes were not pretty. Let me just start by saying that we are not what most people would call yoga types. My husband is an ex rugby player who is over six feet tall and let’s just say rubesenque. I’m also quite tall and no stranger to the XL section of the clothing store. I won’t say we aren’t flexible because we do sometimes manage to actually listen to each other and occasionally convince the other person to agree with us. But sitting cross legged on the floor is not our idea of a good time and we usually get our kids to pick up any loose change that falls out of our pockets.
Class number one we were sweating, swearing (internally between ooommmms) and looking around thinking we don’t belong here. We were wearing track pants and baggy T-shirts (ok I at least had running pants on but he was wearing track pants). Now by class twelve we have been somewhat accepted. My husband is known affectionately as “the guy” and I am “that woman who got her husband to come to yoga”. Kind of a superstar I know. I never admit that it was his idea.
I have to say that we do feel closer (I’ll say it for him). Toughing it out through the burn and pull of a deep stretch is a lot like biting your tongue for the thousandths time when the love of your life rearranges the dishwasher again. Learning to let go and breathe, to bend and flow instead of pushing and changing is the start of building peace. Also, sometimes, after class when he’s blissed out and trapped in the car we do also actually manage to talk about things.