Why Committed Relationships Are Hard Work
There’s no other way to say it, loving and living with another human being is damned difficult. It doesn’t start out that way. In the beginning it feels right. Our heart soars, our loins leap. We are wildly optimistic. The bodies we possess start pumping out neurohormones that seduce us into believing that this amazing new person is the source of our newfound bliss.
Out of Hiding
Day to day life as a married couple brings with it the perennial challenge of figuring out how to show up. For Marcia and I, not showing up eventually results in a show-down. I’m pretty adept at not showing up emotionally or energetically. If I don’t pay attention I can become ghostlike.
That’s Not the Way It Happened!
We humans put a lot of energy into making it seem that we have our act together a lot more than we actually do. We hide what we believe is unacceptable. We believe we are alone in our particular problem. Nowhere is this more evident than what goes on between two people in a relationship.
Listening to Criticism
Some of the ugliest fights I have ever witnessed between partners in a committed relationship stem from disputes over recall. To have one’s memory challenged is a call to arms. We all like to believe in the order and coherency of our brain’s function of recollection.
There’s no way around this one. You cannot avoid being criticized. Embedded in the fiber of human relationship is the impulse to criticize each other. It is as if there is this egocentric epicenter within each one where we imagine that others should conform to our sense of how they ought to be. Most of our own criticisms of others and theirs of us fly under the radar. Unspoken and unnoticed, by present nonetheless.
For those of you who practice relationship therapy, you are well aware of the indignities partners can foist on one another, even in the context of a session. All of us have been around couples in social situations where the animosity is palpable. On such occasions we feel like we are in a “tension convention.”