Relationships and the mistakes we make.

I believe that one of the hardest things in a relationship is not listening to what the other person says, but understanding what is being said without preconceptions. Our personalities are, at least partially, developed through experience. Those experiences are our’s alone, and though they may be similar to other’s, the way we take them in is unique to us. That was made even more evident to me after I was prescribed a medication that affected my personality. I was having some problems with circulation and nerve pain and my doctor prescribe a medication in the hopes that it would ease some of this. Instead, it only seemed to make me expect the worse. I felt angry and defensive all the time. Simple comments could set me off and then stick with me. After a week of taking this medicine, I called my doctor’s office and asked if I could stop taking the medicine. The nurse told me to stop immediately and went on to say that this was a common side effect. I stopped taking the pills, and within a week was feeling much more like my old self. I wish that I could do the same thing with some of my other emotional hangups just as easily.

My mother pushed me to succeed by throwing my failures in my face constantly. Her expectation were suppose to be my expectations. If my goals did not follow along with her’s, then they weren’t good enough. I accepted what she said literally and began to believe that I was a failure. If I didn’t keep my room clean then I was lazy and I accepted that label as a personal fault, not just as her means of making me do more. I have been over weight most of my life. With the help of our society, this has become a character flaw, not just a lifestyle. The way I internalized it as an over weight child was that I wasn’t good enough. My weight became a factor in how I “heard” others. “Let’s go get a salad.” became “You should just get a salad.” “Are you going to eat all of that?” became; “Please tell me you’re not going to eat all of that.” For a person who had not experienced the emotions I had in being an over weight child, those two statements would be taken in a very different way.

Relationships involve two people with unique life experiences. The way those experiences shape our personalities can undermind the level of success in our relationships with others. A spouse, or someone who is significant in our lives, can say something that hurts our feelings. In so many of those cases, we take it personally and can let it fester. We get angry, feel bad, feel like a failure. Unfortunately we seldom try to explain those feelings, instead, we simply build on them. The person who has said the things that have hurt us may mean something entirely different and as a result are baffled by our reaction. Here are some examples:

“Should we get a half order of potato skins?” May simply be a question, not a reference on how much you eat.

“Let me help.” May be a simple offer, not an indication that the person offering doesn’t think you’re smart enough to do it yourself.

“Let’s go for a walk.” May mean that the person just wants to spend time with you, not that YOU NEED to EXERCISE!

Don’t even get me started with those dating lines!

Ok, I’ve really focused on primarily how girls feel but I’m sure that guys have some of the same issues. But, since I am a girl and I can understand me better than you guys I’m going to add a few more examples:

“Will you do the laundry?” means will you wash, dry, fold, and put up the clothes. I doesn’t mean will you turn on a machine.

When a man says “I did the dishes.” and expects to be rewarded for it. He needs to understand that putting dishes into a dishwasher and leaving all the pans in the sink, does not constitute “doing the dishes.”

“I’ve looked everywhere!” includes moving objects and looking under them.

Okay, I am trying for a laugh here but these types of things can cause a lot of discord in a relationship too. Men may really believe that if they put clothes in the washing machine and start the wash cycle, they are “doing the laundry.” To a man, maybe “dishes” only include plates, and glasses.

We need to get past our reactions by interacting. It’s not always easy and it may not always turn out the way we want, but hopefully we’ll avoid a lot of pain, anger, and low self esteem. And maybe, if we’re really lucky, we’ll learn to respect and accept our differences for what they really are

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2 Responses to “Relationships and the mistakes we make.”

  1. bmat10 Says:

    There is a great book, it can be hard to understand but it does touch on what you are talking about. The book is RD. Lang’s ‘The Politics of Experience’ Back in the day I had to study it for my Sociology degree. One of the key points is that we can empathize with another’s persons experience but we cannot experience another persons experience. So its has you say when somebody says something, they may mean it differently then you recieve it.

    Also, watch the Cesar Milan the Dog whisperer. Even if you don’t own a dog his philosophy still holds for people and it all boils down to Ghandi, ‘we must be the change we wish to see in this world”

  2. pamblizzard Says:

    I think that Milan actually says the same thing I’ve talked about. Understanding what is said and how it’s meant play an important role in any human relationship; Just like understanding the nature of animals is critical in the successful relationship between humans and animals.

    I still struggle sometimes with all my animals for this very reason. We have 3 dogs, 2 cats, and 2 horses. Healy still has issues with men that we struggle with. We’re not sure what his first few weeks of life were like but the fact that he not once has had an accident in the house still amazes me and we got him when he was less than 10 weeks old. He still barks and growls at my husband until Jim comes up to him and literally lets him know it’s ok. We realize that there’s a reason for this, but may never know what that reason is.

    And, I can’t help but mention the incident at Sea World yesterday. I feel terrible for the trainer, but a killer whale obviously does not experience things the way that we do. For all we know, he may have just gotten excited and wanted to play with the trainer. The implication that he should be put down seems so wrong. I heard a newscaster this morning compare what happened to a domestic dog attacking someone. The dog would probably be put down. Why shouldn’t the whale have the same fate? I think that this particular newscaster must not understand the term domesticated.

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