Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I got nothing

It should come as no surprise to many of my readers and friends that I have opinions about just about everything. A good friend of mine responds with this often when she's not sure how to respond.

But as I mentioned here I am working very hard at keeping my opinions about other people's relationships to myself.

The only relationship/marriage I can really understand is my own. (And some days even understanding my own marriage is complicated). Yet at least I experience that every day. What happens between another couple, behind closed doors, I honestly can't say.

This came up again, for me - as a friend and I were discussing mutual friends, with the original friend's observation "I don't get how that relationship works." I had to admit that I agreed, but it made me uncomfortable to say even that much.

It's a struggle, because I care about people and want them to be happy. I listen to what someone says and think "what if they used this tool" or "what if they tried this?" I don't want to see that person hurt or caught unaware.

Because I have also heard lots of great observations and ideas over the years from good friends. Some of which have been incredibly helpful. One might think "well, everyone knows about x" but maybe they don't.

I guess all I'm saying is, I have no idea what makes other people tick or what makes other relationships work. The older I get, the more I realize that. I can't say if a relationship should or should not continue.

On one of the message boards I frequent, someone made the comment that a popular self-help guru states a marriage or relationship could not survive contempt - or perhaps it was
stone-walling. I can't say whether or not that's the case. I think what bothered me the most about the statement was that a therapist or marriage counselor could tell within fifteen minutes whether or not any relationship would survive.

I don't know that I agree. It doesn't seem to me that it takes into account the full complexity of a
person, their motivations and their expectations.

Someone could look at me and say that I fit the archetype of an oldest child in a dysfunctional family, raised in an authoritarian religion. While that might be true, it's just not that simple. As a person (just like anyone) I am more than my history, more than what I've done or what I'm

So it seems a little over-zealous to me that any professional could make judgments about a relationship and its efficacy so quickly - to come to an understanding about two people (given all
the potential complexities). And that's not taking into account issues like mental illness,PTSD , various anxiety disorders, addiction, abuse, etc. Not that the goal should be that a couple should stay together OR to separate (see my post about divorce here).

Most relationships (to my mind) are on some sort of continuum, with ups and downs. Each probably has conflicts, some conflicts may never be resolved. As an amateur - I can't answer those questions. All I can do is suggest leaving this analysis to the professionals. I don't think relationships are simple formulas, just as I don't think the whole of a person can be reduced to a formula.

1 comment:

Freckle Face Girl said...

Just like you, I find that the older I get and the more experience I have in my own relationship the more I realize that they are all beyond my understanding. I had to smile when I read the description of you, because that fits me perfectly too. People and situations are so complex though.

I don't even have an idea of how much or what kind of things I would put up with and for how long, so guessing about others is impossible.