sex, money, and miscellany: talking about what matters

interpretations

In Uncategorized on September 27, 2009 at 6:02 am

So say you’re in a relationship. And say you’ve been together for ten or fifteen years. You probably (hopefully) know each other pretty well. Now say your sweetie does something like…leaves their bath towel wet and on the bathroom floor. Or puts an empty cereal box away. Or [insert your pet peeve here].

What do you do? They know you. You know them. They should know that you hate [whatever that thing is]. They should be more considerate. They should live up to their end of the bargain. They should do it your way. There are good reasons for your way. They are: [fill in your reasons here].

So if they should and they don’t, then what does that mean?

You could say that it means they are an awful person.

You could say that it means they are a hopeless companion.

You could say that it means they hate you and your relationship is falling apart.

You could say it, but you’d most likely be wrong. Far more likely, they are themselves. You are yourself. And (surprise!) you are not the same person. Now it may be that the relationship is falling apart, but it likely has little to nothing to do with the wet towel. Just saying. It’s all about the interpretation. Maybe it means that they’re tired. Maybe it means that they were running to put out a fire on the front porch and forgot about the toothpaste. Maybe it means…how do you know what it means? How do you know what happened?

And which interpretation will serve you best? (if “they hate me” serves you, that’s good information, too.)

And the best way to get good data for your interpretation?

Ask them. Communicate. Really.

You never know.

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  1. Well said, Leela. But I can’t resist chiming in. Jessie and I visit her parents’ place a lot, enough that they’ve stopped cleaning up before we come, so I’ve had the chance to observe that most of the things Jessie does that annoy me are things her family does, too. (And vice versa, I’m sure.) And chances are, the reason they annoy me is that I was scolded for doing them as a kid — and she wasn’t. That’s important because it means if I criticize her, I’m criticizing her upbringing, and since the difference in our upbringings is already a sore point, that’s a can of worms that doesn’t need to be opened as long as no harm is being done.

    What I’ve had to realize is that most of these behaviors don’t do any harm, they’re just different, and I don’t have to be annoyed by them. They’re a reminder of where she came from, and the woman she’s become is the one I married and promised to love unconditionally.

    Plus, I can’t seem to find a way to say, for example, “It bothers me when you leave our clean towels draped over the litter box” that doesn’t come across as criticism. Any suggestions? 🙂

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