The Tenderness of Silence



My wife, Liz, is five years younger than me and when I was born, our fathers worked together and our families were friends and so her parents became my God parents before she was ever born. Our families went to the same church and we lived in the same community for years but I never noticed Liz when I was a teenager because she was just a little kid to me back then.

 One year when I was in high school, I was a camp counselor at our church camp and Liz was a camper. Liz and her friend, Helen, were sitting outside of the mess hall at camp that week talking about the Friday night dance at the end of the week and wondering when they would ever find someone and I told her, “Wait and let it come to you.”  I had no idea that years later it would be me coming to her.

 I can also tell you the moment and the exact place on our church lawn where she was walking one Sunday when she had come home for a weekend during her sophomore year of college when I first noticed her as a woman and that was it for me right then and there.

Some years later when we were engaged to be married, Liz and I argued a lot. The heart of many of my core fears is being alone and feeling abandoned, and when Liz and I would argue, one of her main responses to our conflict was to shut down and put up her emotional walls and ignore me when she felt criticized. This would trigger my core fears of being alone and being abandoned and I would compulsively chase her down and escalate my efforts to break through her defenses and prove myself right and her wrong which, of course, just made our conflict worse.  However, over the years of raising our three boys together and developing our careers, we worked on our relationship and on our emotional issues and we have had a remarkable and blessed 25 years together so far.

During our early years, our deep love for each other was always clear, but we constantly triggered each other’s fears and the ego noise of our conflicts was intense and deafening at times. Over the decades, I have learned to give Liz space when we are in conflict and instead of focusing on her, I can be present with the inner turmoil of my fears of abandonment rather than project these fears onto her. During this time, Liz has also learned to release her fears with me so that she doesn't feel the need to put her barriers with me as much anymore, and the profound love that we have always shared continues to come to the forefront of our interactions more and more with each passing year. Instead of the inner noise of our fears and conflicts, there is now a silence in the space between us that is so tender and beautiful that I don’t have words for the quiet depth of love that I allow myself to experience in her presence.

While we still have our moments of conflict, my awareness of the depth of love that we have always shared continues to get deeper and stronger with each passing year, and our relationship has become a constant reminder for me to release my fears of isolation and abandonment and simply be open and present to love. There is nothing particularly flashy about this, it just is what it is, and I find myself at home with the simple knowing of our connection. It’s too simple for complicated minds.

In a similar fashion, the relationships in our lives can call us to center and remind us of the profound love which is our true nature if we are willing to use the conflicts and differences in our relationships as a path to releasing our fears and learning to more deeply ground ourselves on the soul-love that makes us who we are.

Here are a few steps to help you use the relationships in your life as a path of growth:


    1. When you are upset or in conflict with your partner or loved ones, turn your attention within on the fears you have that are getting triggered.
    2. Own responsibility for your fears as your emotional baggage which is ultimately not caused by your partner or others. Feel your feelings without resistance. Remember that others may trigger your fears, but they don't cause them. 
    3. Whatever you resist will persist, so don’t resist your fears or project them onto your partner or loved one. Simply ‘be with’ the fears of your ego in the silence of your own mind.

    1. See through the illusions of your fears and your insecurities and remember the truth of love that is at the heart of your relationship with your partner and which is your nature as a human being. 
    2. Look through any of the superior or grandiose thinking of your ego that may compensate for your feelings of insecurity.
    3. Take a brief moment of meditative stillness and feel your connection with the goodness of your humanity and center your awareness on the love in yourself, your partner and others. 
  3. RESPOND TO YOUR Conflicts and LIFE CHALLENGES WITH WISDOM AND GOOD JUDGEMENT instead of manipulation and control

    1. The problem is communication where you blame yourself or others. BLAMING DOES NOT WORK. Don’t let your fears run your life or dominate your decision-making process because this will only lead to the dead end street of the blame game.
    2. Be willing to listen to your partner's concerns and upset feelings without judgement.
    3. Share your feelings and insecurities without blaming yourself or your partner.
    4. Stay solution focused. 


When you take a moment to center yourself in this manner and slowly resolve the conflicts in your life, then you evolve your relationships to support the best in each other. You are so much more than you know, and when you learn to silence the noise of your ego and be in the stillness more consistently, then you find the overwhelming joy and clarity of Spirit within yourself and within the people in your life.




Steven Fisher