Last night my wife and I were having a discussion about some things she was afraid of and the impact that was having on our relationship.
I say ‘talking’, but to be honest it was more like I was challenging her and she was patiently entertaining me.
We had just seen the new Bad Boys movie and I referred to the scene where a story was told about a man riding a horse who could not answer the question, “Where are you going?” because the horse was running wild.
I suggested it was a good metaphor for what I was experiencing – that her horse was running wild. My point was that it wasn’t ‘her’ that was afraid, but something in her subconscious.
The next morning, after reminding myself of who I am, I sat in silence for a short while, just watching the fireworks of my mind explode in rapid succession. Once some spaciousness began to develop, I brought my attention to the conversation from last night. Not the content of the dialogue, but the image of us and how I felt. In that moment, I saw my wife’s innocence, not intellectually as I did the night before when invoking the metaphor of the horse and rider, but in a felt and embodied way this time.
Maybe the stage was set for this in my journaling just prior to my meditation. In it, I had softly and intentionally declared my own innocence, as I do every morning, with the statement “I am innocent and response-able”. But this time, with a kind of automatic writing, I’d also followed that statement with also declaring her innocence as well “and my wife is always innocent and she is innocent in all ways”.
Feeling her innocence in my meditation, I saw the opportunity to forgive her for having fear and also to forgive myself for believing I needed to challenge her as a way to support her.
In the wake of the felt forgiveness, my passion and desire to support her through challenge melded into more of a holding and caretaking energy.
At this point, in a slow and full inner voice, I heard the phrase, “I am good husbandry.” and in the same moment, I saw the horse, not as a wild one she was being taken for a ride on, but a wild one in a stable, under my care.
When I finished this short meditation, I opened my eyes and captured the phrase in my journal.
“I am good husbandry.”
I knew the meaning of the word husband to be a farmer or caretaker of animals, and immediately loved the idea of my role as one who cares for her subconscious fears rather than one who challenges her to confront them. Even if I were to challenge her to confront those fears with my support (which is what I did last night), it still felt more loving and impactful as the steward of her fears.
‘But what about the word good’, I wondered?
The idea of being a ‘good husband’ of course married well with the insight I was creating, but somehow the phrase ‘good husbandry’ sounded familiar on its own…like I’d heard it somewhere before.
So I Googled it.
Unbeknownst to me ‘Good Husbandry’ is a legal term describing the standards of good farming practice set out in the UK Agriculture Act of 1947.
For its seeming obtuseness, I immediately welcomed this not as irrelevant to my relating with my wife, but as instrumental to my insight.
After reading through the details of the farming rules, I used a creative practice I often utilize in the cultivation of insight which is to change the context of something while maintaining the structure and essence of the intentionality in it. In short, I used the farming rules of good husbandry as a framework to create more detailed instructions for me on how to bring good husbandry of my wife’s fears to life.
The end result of this 20-30 minute heart and mind meandering was a small piece of writing that I could read to remind me of an insight of how to relate with and support my wife and also some pragmatic suggestions on how to bring it to life.
My friend Gill does a sketch every morning. It’s a kind of ritual for him, not that he does through discipline but as an expression of his joy and exploration as an artist.
For me, creating myself and my relationship is like this. Language is my paint and I am an artist. My voices, inside and out, are my brushes. I like to mix colors and explore and play on the canvas of mind. It is a constant dance and discovery.
Like an actual painter, I imagine, I both learn about myself and improve myself to some small degree with each painting.
There is nowhere to get to though. No final painting in sight or that I am even looking for.
There is just the act of painting. Of Creating.
And this is always enough.
Loving you, JPM ❤️
? Artwork by the multi-talented Jabu Molo
Good Husbandry (Original)
The rules of good husbandry are the standards of good farming practice set out in section 11 of the Agriculture Act 1947. They apply to an occupier of an agricultural holding, and include:
Keeping permanent pasture properly mown or grazed.
Cropping arable land in way to maintain the land in good cultivation and fertility.
If the farm is a livestock farm, keeping it properly stocked.
Keeping crops and livestock free from disease and pest.
Protecting harvested and lifted crops.
Carrying out necessary work of maintenance where it is a tenant’s obligation.
In addition, the occupier must keep the holding in a condition to enable a reasonable standard of efficient production to be maintained in the future.
Good Husbandry (Adapted)
The rules of good husbandry are the standards of good marriage practice set out in section 11 of the Wedlock Act 1947. They apply to an occupier of a husband position, and include:
Keeping his wife’s home environment properly safe and provided for.
Cropping things out of each day to maintain time with his wife for good cultivation and fertile ground for intimate communication.
Keeping his wife properly fed with ideas of safety and security.
Keeping his wife’s subconscious mind free from disease and pest through forgiving her and guiding her in forgiving herself.
Protecting her potential and dreams by reminding her of her power.
Carrying out necessary work of relational maintenance where it may appear to be his wife’s obligation.
Keeping the marriage in a condition to enable a reasonable standard of intimacy, peace and joy to be maintained in the future.