Stress and Relationships
For the past few weeks I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with people in relationships, most of whom have been together for a very long time.
Most are amazing models for the type of relationship I hope to have some day. When I was in Seattle it was basically a non-stop stream of adorable, well-adjusted couples. My close friends who are new parents do an amazing job of working together. Other couples have their own challenges, but they all have this way about them that makes it just a joy to be in the presence of their happiness together.
But one couple I’ve been around recently in California kind of makes me sad. They just don’t seem to enjoy each others’ company most of the time. She treats him more like a child than a partner, and he often proves her right. When their moods are in sync, they seem to have fun, and even laugh and joke around. But that really isn’t the common interaction. She asks a question; he doesn’t hear her. She gets pissed and yells, he glares at her. He makes a joke, she takes it personally and yells at him. She plays the martyr; he sits around and watches TV.
I have spent the past few weeks removing myself from these interactions when they get uncomfortable, or at least trying to keep my mouth shut when one or both of them are being hurtful and irrational. And I’ve been reminded by the wife to keep out. And yet at the same time, she’ll turn to me when she’s frustrated and ask me to essentially agree with her view of how the relationship is going. Since I’m around both of them equally, I don’t think that’s really fair.
These are two really great people. They’ve always been good to me, and I care for them a great deal. But it’s amazing how much I learn from them in terms of what I do not want in a relationship. They may actually be quite happy, and just the incorporation of a third party makes their interactions seem off. But I can’t imagine a life with someone where every other sentence is said in frustration, and where most interactions seem to be filled with stress instead of love.
I know relationships can be difficult at times. But it seems like there’s a point where, if each day seems to be more stressful than happy, then maybe it’s time to have a talk with a neutral third party to see if anything can be done.
I suppose being around this type of relationshiop could make me shy away from relationships altogether, but I’m choosing instead to just make a note of what I’m seeing so that, if I catch myself acting in those ways, I can step back and try to figure out why. Plus, I see so many positive relationship among friends in my life that maybe it says more about them that this particular one stands out.