Page 19 - NewFamilyJune05

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Relationships are sick or sane. Healthy or unhealthy. We can feel the
difference because over time they make us either happy or unhappy. Even on a
bad day in a healthy relationship we get something good in return. But on a
bad day in an unhealthy relationship yet another piece of us gets torn away and
trashed.
When we use feelings as a barometer to measure our comfort level, it’s
simple to distinguish between the two; what is not so simple is figuring out
how and why a relationship gets sick. It’s an old wives’ tale that we are doomed
from childhood to repeat our parents’ mistakes or to grow up and marry carbon
copies of our mothers and fathers. That’s not to say that history never repeats
itself. It does. The “ins” and “outs” of relationships however, are not so pat
that we can prevent problems from getting worse by using a cookie-cutter
approach.
It’s tempting to think that your husband’s job, your wife’s affair, your
mother-in-law, money, or your sex life is “the problem.” That’s where the
drama is. The energy. But you can work on the issue, scream about the issue,
pack up and leave the issue, and find you’ve been beating a dead horse. The
relationship remains sick.
Anyone who has gone through a bitter divorce can testify that signing a piece
of paper does not bring about a truce or a cease-fire. Now that you’ve rid
yourself of this person–the one who has brought the issue, whatever the issue is,
crashing into your life–there are still no guarantees that you’re going to live
happily ever after.
That’s the trouble with focusing on issues. It points the finger away from
ourselves and toward someone else. “If only he would stop drinking, playing
around, being mean, neglecting me. If only she would grow up, be emotionally
available, and want sex as much as I do.” If only!
We all know we can’t change anybody else. Of course, this never stops us
from trying. I often suggest to a client that trying to fix the someone who’s
causing him or her grief but who isn’t with us in the room would be more like
voodoo than therapy. But the blame game seems to be an irresistible human
L E T ’ S MAK E A MA P
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