My partner has become quite difficult and quarrelsome. Our relationship doesn’t work very well anymore, but he never wants to talk about our problems. How should I deal with this?

Lama Ole’s answer:

If talking is not possible because the levels of experience are too different, then one can apply a few tricks to relax the situation. You can tell yourself, “I only spend a few hours a day with him, whereas he is with himself day and night, poor fellow.” You might also remind yourself that you can train patience with people like him, and without patience there’s no enlightenment. You can try to see everything he says as a mantra. Even when he grumbles and grouches, you only hear Om Mani Peme Hung or Karmapa Chenno, Karmapa Chenno.

As to why people are difficult, this is often because they have problems with themselves. They have so much pressure inside themselves that they try to create external counter pressure by starting an argument with others. You can consciously remove the pressure—for instance, by leaving the room every time he is about to start to argue with you. Tell him, “This isn’t my table; I’m not serving here today.” You are friendly, but act very superficially the moment he tries to pull you into his trips. You simply don’t engage.

If he doesn’t find anything to counteract his inner pressure, he will explode at some point. That’s when the inner problems will come up, and only then can you start talking about them, working with them, and thinking about how to go on from there.

Or he may find some other people to argue with. Then you can act as the referee rather than the enemy. You can bring in your female wisdom, and he will listen to you. However, there’s one thing women should be mindful of if they don’t have children. They shouldn’t act out their suppressed urge to educate their partner. This can make him behave in a moody and dismissive way just so that you’ll leave him in peace.

The best we can do in this case is to only share the good things with each other. Whenever things are smooth, you are with him, and whenever they aren’t, you get a couple of books to read. Life is too short to get caught up in bad moods. We go into the garden when the sun is shining, and when it’s raining we stay away. And if we think the sun is shining too rarely, we can still think of moving on to another place with better weather.