“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.” – Francis Bacon, philosopher
“I was gobsmacked she was having an affair!”
Victor (Vic) was in shock. But Victor was also very angry. His wife, Vivian, had a new love in her life, and had decided to divorce him, immediately! She had already talked to her lawyer. Vic was still reeling from the news and told me he had called because of their kids.
Vic and Vivian had been married for over fifteen years. Their three children, Valentina, Valiant and Valery were aged 14, 12 and 10 years, respectively. Vivian had told the kids about what was going on and this had pissed Victor off even more because, according to him, she hadn’t even discussed it with him first.
Vic was a tall, dark-haired, big boned guy with bushy eyebrows, about 35 years old. He was dressed casually even though he was in middle management in a call centre. I thought middle management today wore golf shirts and chinos and you just added a dress shirt and tie for the important meetings. Vic, however, was in jeans, a faded t-shirt and well-worn sneakers. As I was trying to imagine him supervising a team of service representatives, he said, using the latest vernacular version of total surprise:
“I was gobsmacked she was having an affair!”
“I’ve found the other partner usually knows immediately.”
“Really?” I asked, with my own hint of surprise, fuelled with doubt.
“How could I have known? Since she got her new job over two years ago, I have been the one doing most of the parenting…as well as working myself.” he said with a self-righteous tone, expression and pulled back shoulders.
“Vic, in my work, I have rarely found that to be the case with intimate relationships.” I said.
“What do you mean?” he responded.
“In close relationships like a marriage, when one partner’s loyalty and focus goes to a third party, I’ve found the other partner usually knows immediately. But, out of confusion or perhaps fear, they try to ignore it and hope it goes away. Was that going on with you, Vic?”
“And to tell the truth, I’m not really sure myself.”
His shoulders and voice dropped simultaneously as he said, “I’ve been suspicious since Christmas. She has had this new government job and talks a lot about all the different people she has met there…I guess some are the movers and shakers in the local community. Anyway, she has been attending late night meetings, travelling, and frequently working overtime for the last year or so.”
Then, he added despondently, “But, we have been growing apart for some time. I think that was part of why she switched jobs. The kids are getting older, she felt less needed in many ways, and has been looking for a new and different future.”
“Do you think she is interested in rebuilding your marriage, Vic? And are you?” I asked, to see where he thought things might be heading.
“Vivian says she’s not interested at all. And, to tell the truth, I’m not really sure myself.” he replied with his words softening his strong, nonverbal belief that their marriage was over.
“The power to question is the basis of all human progress.” – Indira Gandhi, statesman
“…to be better prepared for their future…what does that mean…?”
“Vic, I’ve learned a long marriage is not a success, it’s just a learning opportunity for the participants. And, similarly, a divorce is not a failure either, it’s also a learning opportunity for each participant. Marriage and divorce are simply social contracts between people to enable each of them to be better prepared for their future!”
Vic looked at me curiously saying, “to be better prepared for their future…what does that mean, Ken?”
“Vic, you have probably heard in the media that our universe is really old and in fact, Scientific American just recently suggested, it was over 400 billion years. Its success suggests there are no mistakes occurring in it. Scientists in all disciplines repeatedly find this to be true…how everything fits together purposefully creating our wonder-filled universe.”
“Yes, I agree, Ken. I’m one of those people who is fascinated by how natural systems work together to create our world. I love being in nature. I’m kind of an outdoor person.” he replied.
“…there are just two questions I can ask myself which will protect me and my future…”
“Well Vic, many of us don’t realize we are all part of this system. Not just our bodies, but also our minds, our relationships, our families, our communities, our countries and our continents are all part of this system.”
“Ken, are you saying my marriage is part of a natural system like my body and so my marriage breakup is not a mistake…it’s natural in some sort of way?”
“Yes, I am!”
“And, that would mean, since it is not a mistake, it was inevitable and so unavoidable, and helpful or useful in some way, to me?” he asked with that big logical conclusion surfacing for the first time like the dorsal fin of an orca breaking the glass surface of the water.
“Now, you have the idea! Good for you! And this takes us to the two most important questions you will ever ask yourself about anything…the two most important questions for your future survival and well being.” I replied, enthusiastically. Vic was quick.
“You mean there are just two questions I can ask myself which will protect me and my future?” he paraphrased.
“Yep! And, I bet Vic, you have already been using them regularly…not even realizing their value.”
“What are they?”
“Why is this happening to me? and Why is this happening me, now?”
The two questions we all need to ask ourselves regularly; the two questions we all need to use to optimize our learning and evolution; and the two questions which will ensure our survival and well being are: Why is this happening to me? and Why is this happening to me, now?”
Vic looked disappointed. He didn’t seem impressed by these two questions at all. He said,
“They seem rather mundane things to ask myself. Why those two, Ken?”
“Vic, these two questions drive you to understand how things fit together within the natural system of your life. The first question, Why is this happening to me? drives you to self evaluate the event at this place in your life. The second question, Why is this happening to me, now? drives you to self evaluate the event at this time in your life.” I replied.
“And?” he said waiting for more.
“A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.”
– Bruce Lee, actor
“They are the kernel questions to understanding yourself and your life!”
“This enables you to discover the perfection of the event in your life which leads you to appreciate it and thereby move through it into your future!” I added.
“Let me get this straight! Asking those two questions about my marriage break up will enable me to learn to appreciate it and get over it! Is that what you are saying, Ken?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying, Vic! They are the kernel questions to understanding yourself and your life!”
He paused letting the ideas and the questions flash through the synaptic pathways of his brain creating new linkages or stronger connections to enable him to understand more.
“… it motivated you to recognize what was most important to you…yourself, your children and your own future.”
After a few brief minutes, he said, with a confused half smirk,
“You know, there is a part of me who is relieved by what has happened. Ken, I’ve never been closer to my kids. I’ve been thinking about switching careers which Vivian would not approve of, and I feel I’ve given this relationship a fair shot. So, I guess I am really ready to move on!”
“So, Vivian is serving you by moving on with her life, since this motivates you to move on with your own! Is that accurate?”
“Yes, but why is it accurate? Why did I need her to have an affair for me to start living my own life?” he asked confusing himself again.
“It looks like her timing was perfect for you, as well, because it motivated you to recognize what was most important to you…yourself, your children and your own future. Does that ring true, Vic?”
“I think I will have those two questions tattooed on my forearms to remind me…”
“It really does, Ken! I have been avoiding my work for some time. Fortunately, I was able to focus on the kids while Vivian was dealing with her new job. This also gave me the opportunity to research what I have always wanted to do which is farming…I want a more rural lifestyle. I have even talked to the kids about it and they are keen as well,” he said with an upbeat smile.
“Are you starting to see how what has happened in your marriage is not really a mistake, just an evolution for you, for your kids and for Vivian. There are no good or bad people involved, just a family evolving the way they need to for their individual futures.”
Smiling now with a full grin, he said, “Yeah, I’m getting it! I think I will have those two questions tattooed on my forearms to remind me to use them every time I don’t understand what is going on in my life!”
“Vic, that could be a very wise thing to do!” I said returning his smile.
“The ultimate goal of therapy… it’s too hard a question. The words come to me like tranquility, like fulfillment, like realizing your potential.” – Irvin D. Yalom, psychologist
Until Next time…
Now you know, if you want to figure out your life, start asking yourself the two most important questions anyone can ever ask themselves in life. The first question is, Why is this happening to me? and the second one is, Why is this happening to me, now?
This will drive your brain to integrate the event into how you fit in our universe, how you are part of one of its natural systems, how this event in your life is perfect for you to be exactly who you are, doing what you do and having what you have! This will motivate you forward into your future with gratitude, certainty and love.
Our next seminar is entitled, “How to Bring balance to Life and Purpose to Work!” It will be on Saturday, October 22nd, 2016. Details are available at ww.kenpiercepsychologist.com
Send us your feedback and topic suggestions…we love to hear from you! If you have a specific question or wish to schedule a consultation, feel free to contact me.
Namaste, (I salute the grandly organized design of the universe, manifested in you!)
Further information: www.kenpiercepsychologist.com