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The Art of War, that classic work of Chinese literature, written in from the 5th century BC and attributed to the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, is packed with good advice on marriage, although marriage is never once mentioned.
It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the cost of carrying it out.
Before you go to war with your spouse over a trivial thing, you should thoroughly consider the cost of doing so. Sun Tzu makes it very clear that war, even if successful, is costly.
In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.
Maintaining bitterness and bad blood, holding grudges and grievances are like long sieges that deplete your resources. Even if you do win, what you win is no longer worth having.
In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to capture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.
Taking whole keeps as much intact as possible. It gives you something worth having. Destruction only leaves devastation, not only for the defeated, but also for the conqueror.
Authentic victory is victory over aggression, a victory that respects the enemy and makes further conflict unnecessary.
Therefore, one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the most skillful. Subduing the other’s military without battle is the most skillful.
The sage spouse doesn’t attain victory by defeating her partner, but by creating the conditions that make further conflict unnecessary.
Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content. If it accords with advantage, then employ troops. If it does not, then stop. A kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.
A marriage destroyed can be brought back into being, but it’s hard. Love that has died can be brought back to life, but it seldom happens. Therefore, don’t put your marriage at risk just because you are angry or annoyed. Feelings will pass. But, if you have something worth fighting about and fighting will solve the problem; then fight only to the extent that it’s advantageous.
He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.
If your partner loses her shit, don’t lose yours.
Use order to await chaos. Use stillness to await clamor. This is ordering the heart-mind.
Instead, keep your wits about you and she will regain hers.
A leader leads by example, not by force.
Fighting does not end fighting. Fighting is ended by making up. Show an example of making up.
Confront them with annihilation, and they will then survive; plunge them into a deadly situation, and they will then live. When people fall into danger, they are then able to strive for victory.
When you attack your partner, she will dig in and defend herself at all costs. Then you’ll have a battle.
Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.
Give your partner an opportunity to stop fighting.
Above all, says Sun Tzu, know yourself and know the other.
Knowing the other and knowing oneself, in one hundred battles no danger. Not knowing the other and knowing oneself, one victory for one loss. Not knowing the other and not knowing oneself, in every battle certain defeat.