A Reminder: Relationships Break

I write this from my therapy perspective, with no particular person or couple in mind, but I want to point out to anyone reading that if you mess up enough times in your relationship with anybody important to you, at some point the relationship breaks. While it’s true that a good-to-start-with relationship can be fixed (otherwise I wouldn’t have a job), after a while, it’s broken and it’s just gone. There is no more relationship because the other person doesn’t want to, can’t, or won’t relate to you.

If you’re relationship is important, you have to put time into it. Further, the time you put into it has to be pleasant, or fruitful, or nice or in some way positive more often than it’s avoided, angry, resentful, bitter, or just plain nasty. John Gottman, a noted psychological researcher says that it doesn’t matter about your style, how many arguments you have, whether you have tons of sex or not, what it all comes down to is this: For every 1 negative interaction, comment, pain or whatever that you inflict on your partner, there has to be 5 positive ones.

This means if you slice-and-dice your partner verbally before they’ve had their coffee or gone to work, you can count on spending the rest of the day making it up to them. If you don’t want to put in the effort to do that, you have two choices — either don’t be nasty in the first place very often or lose your relationship.  It is as simple as that.

Needless to say, don’t cheat on your partner.  That “one” transgression seems to vibrate throughout all of life and it’s the death-knell for many relationships. If you are having an affair, and you know what it’ll be like if you get caught, stop doing it or at least consider why you’re doing it. Maybe you want to break your relationship and maybe you don’t.  Affairs are the quickest way to do it.

While I’m at it, “controlling” a relationship is not the same as love.  Coercing your partner with words or with fists or with money or any of a million other things is NOT LOVE.  You don’t need to know where your partner is every minute of every day. You don’t need to stop them from having friends other than you. It’s ok if they look at other people (by that, I mean actually just look at other people — controlling people don’t even allow that!) If you have to make the person love you, you realize that they don’t already. If they don’t already, save everybody the hassle and move on until you find someone who does.

Regarding addictions: If you have one, at some point you will have to choose between your addiction and the special person in your life. If you don’t choose, they have the right to. It’s as simple as that. Besides, if you’re addicted, you’re already having a relationship.  Why pretend you need another?

Lastly, this goes for children as well. If you’re nasty to your children (or controlling or physically) often enough (or sexually abusive just once) , at some point they are just going to tune you out or avoid you.  If you keep going with your behavior, at some point, they are not going to want to come back and when they can leave, they will. Even if they talk to you on holidays, or when they feel they have to, it’ll never be a full relationship. Their heart won’t be in it.

I say all of this in advance to people because invariably someone’s going to come to my office and be surprised that any of the above is true.  “What do you mean you don’t want me to cheat?”. “What do you mean that you don’t like being forced to do things against your will or being embarrassed in front of your friends?”. “You don’t want to be with me forever even though you said you didn’t want to be with me today and the day before and the day before that?”. People seem genuinely amazed when their partner says the very things I said above.

Just sayin’, so that it doesn’t happen to you.

 

Peace,

 

John

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