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Compassion in Action

Linda: Sylvia and Seymour have been married for more than fifty years. We consider them wise elders in our tribe. They still travel extensively and wherever they go they keep up their rigorous work out routine that includes swimming, biking, and walking.  On a trip to Russia, they found a public swimming pool. Sylvia said, “I found that their pool etiquette was different from ours.  The women stand around in the pool talking, right in the middle of the lanes. I had to continually swim around them. I noticed my mind filled with judgment. Why don’t they get out of the pool to kibbitz? They are in my way. Don’t they have any consideration for the people who really want to swim in the pool?” Each day she went to the pool, and each day her mind was full of irritation about these clusters of women being in her way.

“After days in a row, I was in the locker room putting on my bathing suit. Many of the women were nude taking off their clothing to put on their swimsuits. I saw that many of the women were about my age, or even younger, but their bodies looked so much more worn than mine. I became acutely aware of how difficult their lives must be compared to my own for them to be aging so rapidly. My heart opened to these women.  I felt admiration for what they had weathered. When I got into the pool to swim my laps, I was filled with affection for these wonderful women. They were still standing in the middle of the lane, but it didn’t bother me at all.”

Seymour said, “This is an important secret of how relationships work. If we can handle the fear and anger in our own mind, our relationship will fill up with love. Couples with strong marriages have accumulated vast reservoirs of attention, caring, and goodwill by making regular and frequent deposits in their emotional bank account. They have learned how to get vulnerable, learned to resist the temptation to blame, and have become humble enough to ask their partner for help. When one is vulnerable and says ‘I’m afraid and I need your help’, it makes it very hard for the other partner to say no and to continue to fight. Couples with strong marriages defuse anger and fear so that it doesn’t close their heart and rob them of precious life energies, and they know enough to apologize quickly when they screw up. If you don’t get frightened and angry, then you’ll naturally be loving. It takes a lot more time to come to terms with unfinished business from our families, and our personal issues than people realize. It can take up to twenty years or even more. It’s a demanding practice with big returns and so worth the effort.”

Sylvia: “I have learned over the years how anger is poison in the mind. I have discovered that if I deliver the message without anger, I can say anything I want to Seymour, or anybody else in the world, both making my point and feeling heard. The important distinction is that I feel angry, but I don’t need to be giving a current demonstration of anger. I learned the Vinaya, many years ago, which is the compilation of guidelines offered by Buddha. I have attempted to live my life with these precious rules.

         In due season will I speak, not out of season,

         In truth will I speak, not in falsehood.

         For his (her) benefit will I speak, not his (her) loss.

         Gently will I speak, not harshly.

         In kindness will I speak, not in anger.   

The simple truth about making a relationship work is to hang in there, and not give up. Just continue to practice and keep on doing your own work, then you have set the stage for the movement toward a wonderful relationship.


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Compassion in Action


Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW are considered experts in the field of relationships. They have been married since 1972. They have both been trained as seminar leaders, therapists and relationship counselors and have been working with individuals, couples, and groups since 1975. They have been featured presenters at numerous conferences, universities, and institutions of learning throughout the country and overseas as well. They have appeared on over two hundred radio and TV programs. Linda and Charlie are co-authors of the widely acclaimed books: 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last (over 100,000 copies sold) Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love, and Happily Ever After...and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams. The Blooms are excited to announce the release of their fourth book, That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places. They live in Santa Cruz, California, near their two children and three grandchildren. To view our upcoming events and to sign up for our free newsletter, visit our website at:

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APA Reference
Bloom, L. (2020). Compassion in Action. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 27 Jun 2020
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.