Saturday, February 6, 2016

Welcome to fighting

Disclaimer: I'm going to use this blog for a whole variety of things. This post is sort of preachy relationship advice. Not really a country life post.

I am not a professional relationship adviser. I took a few psych classes in college. I have been in a very bad relationship and a very good one. I have spent years looking at my friends' relationships and trying to figure out what works and doesn't. I have read mountains of books. I tried very hard to save my marriage. I researched and prayed and spoke to professionals. This is one thing I want to share, take it or leave it.

In a relationship of any length there are going to be disagreements. Fights if you will. Everyone has them. Now five of you readers just said, "We really never do." You probably do, but you do them in the way I'm about to suggest so you don't FEEL like it's a fight.

I have these friends. They fight a lot. I'm not hopeful for their marriage. AT ALL. This is why. Let's call them Dale and Jan. Dale will do something that offends Jan. Maybe he forgets to pick up dinner. Jan didn't remind him because she was very busy at work all day. She literally never had time for a one minute phone call. She counted on him to get the dinner. Dale forgot. Not because he's evil or because he wanted to make her angry, but because sometimes Dale forgets things. He wasn't too busy, he just forgot. So Jan comes home and Dale says, "What you thinking for dinner?" Jan explodes. She berates Dale for being so forgetful. She reminds him that her job is busy, important and stressful, implying that his isn't. (And maybe, comparatively it's not, maybe that's why she counted on Dale for dinner.) He is hurt and accuses her of attacking him. Of a lack of understanding that sometimes people make mistakes. She snidely says she would understand if he made ONE mistake, but goes on to bring up a list of his mistakes. He didn't make the bed either. He forgot to make an appointment last month. So on.

This goes back and forth, both of them digging deeper as they get more offended by the jabs of the other. Eventually they tire of it and part. They may even come together and apologize, accept the apologies and smile again. Let it go for now. Until next time when they bring it all back up.

They are fighting in the worst way. For the worst motivations. They are not trying to be understood. Not trying to understand the concerns of each other. They are trying to HURT. This is the signal for me. When you start trying to hurt your partner it's pretty much over. I don't know if you can go back from that, once you stop looking at the person standing before you as someone you want to partner with, someone you care about and want to soothe and support and start seeing them as the enemy.

It leads into the other half of this. The laundry list of past offences. They come up because they are not resolved. They are not resolved because the way you fight doesn't resolve anything. You just hurt someone until you get the cheap satisfaction of hurting then move on. The offence is still there. So, of course it comes up next time. This happens because you do not truly respect one another.

Relationships that work don't do this. Ever. They still forget dinner. It still in an annoyance. But the offended party says so, the offender listens until they understand why. Forgiveness happens because dinner is not nearly important enough to waste any time being bitter or angry. Because in the grand scheme of things this was nothing. The unsupported feeling is resolved by caring and nurture. They get a pizza and laugh about it, both grateful for each other, and both resolving to be an even better partner.

This isn't really an advice post. I don't know what you do if you are like Dale and Jan. For myself, it was just one of the negative things in my marriage. We tried, but lacked a basic respect close to strong enough to repair it. It was habit for us, almost an addiction. Guilt/blame/pain/tears/exhaustion. I left. But I learned.

My current partner taught me more about forgiveness than I had ever considered. Mostly this, "I forgave you because what we have is more important than what you did. But before I told you I could forgive you I made sure I really could." For him forgiveness is absolute. Either the offence is enough to destroy what we have or it's not. If not he needs me to understand how I hurt him so I don't repeat it.  He never brings up past offences because they are totally resolved. He's not saving them in the cave of his heart like some pain dragon.

I guess that's about all. I don't know what you would do with this information. I guess know I'm judging your relationships. I don't know if it WILL last for Dale and Jan, but I'm pretty sure how I feel about if it SHOULD last.

Posts are better with photos so let's look at this now:

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