Thursday, March 2, 2017

Don't be a jerk...But if you are already being one, stop.

I wrote this as a comment a few years ago on someone else's page, (where the blog was shared with the comment "this woman is awful," which for the record, I can totally appreciate as one interpretation!) but figured y'all might appreciate it: 
I'm a counselor who works with a lot of couples, and I would like to offer an alternate interpretation of this blog post. I am SUPER IMPRESSED with this woman's revelation and the effort she's putting into shifting it. There are so many couples stuck in cycles like this, where they're failing to notice and appreciate the things they love about each other, and just consistently focused on all the irritations in their different ways of being. I repeat: there are SO MANY COUPLES LIKE THIS. Yes, she's behaving in a terrible way, but I could give any number of reasons why she might be acting that way. Not to excuse it, but to contextualize how people go from being decent human beings that are in love with their partner, to this. 
They are actually probably a great fit, as it's always preferable for there to be one person in a couple that is chill and laid back and not easily activated or anxious (in this case the man). She is the more high-strung one who probably makes sure the details of the house run smoothly, and there is a clear need for that person in a balanced relationship, too. The problem was that she was *so* focused on the minutiae that she stopped appreciating the fact that it was actually great that her husband didn't give a shit about that stuff. Too, my guess is he actually probably didn't care that much when she bitched about things (men generally are better at just letting people be who they are and not trying to change them) except to the extent that it's tiresome and annoying to be criticized all the time. 
In my experience, the part where he begins to avoid dealing with her is the point at which the relationship is definitely in crisis and the point at which he will be most likely to cheat on her if he's going to. Which many, many people in relationships like this do. Not because he's a terrible person, but because he's not getting any positive feedback or appreciation at home, and so if he finds that elsewhere he's likely to eat it up like a starving man. Then they have a whole new set of problems and issues. Even if no one cheats, this is the breaking point of a relationship, where it is just easier to avoid each other than do the same old thing for the millionth time that makes neither person feel good. 
So the fact that she realized she was being awful to him, and she shifted, is great. It's exactly what I would tell her to do if they came to me for couples' counseling. I would be like, "nobody wants to come home to that". And to him, I'd be like, "maybe put a little more effort into taking note of details, because it really means a lot to her when you do." I'd talk to them about love languages and appreciation and taking the time to reconnect with each other and remember why they're together in the first place. Having kids can be a huge strain on the healthiest relationships. 
But it sounds like she's been able to get there on her own, and I think that's great. Most people never manage *or bother* to see themselves clearly. She not only saw herself clearly, but called herself out on it, and offered a blueprint for others to do the same. I don't see how this is negative.

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