The author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, once commented in an interview that he was so accustomed to his wife that he had become aware that he hardly knew her at all. Because it’s easy, isn’t it, to not give our full attention to the familiar and everyday relationship? Sometimes, in fact, we can give more attention to our own stories and assumptions about each other, than to what we’d really observe if only we were to really look – without judgement, criticism, or blame – to really listen – beneath the inaccuracy of words.

This kind of clear seeing takes concentrated focus. But it also takes time. It can’t be done, without practise, amidst the rush of the everyday. A Western journalist, wanting to interview a tribe leader from South America, was asked if the leader could get to know him a little bit first. When the two sat down together, the journalist assumed he’d be asked about his past, his work. What actually happened was that the leader looked into his eyes for two hours straight. After initial intense discomfort, the journalist left the encounter convinced that he’d never been so intimate with anyone else.

Through the length of your relationship with your partner, for how long have you held their gaze; taken the time to settle into their company with a clear-seeing silence?