Dr. Know


In our last article we explored "how the past intrudes upon the present" and colors and influences the emotional quality of a relationship. Most people accept this as a fact of life even if they don’t pay too much attention to it. When conflict takes place in a relationship, it usually isn’t wise to dredge up the baggage of the past because, generally speaking, it’s smoother sailing if we can stay with present circumstances.
Dr. J. Leff
Printing 070505-07
PAST IS PRESENT --or so it might seem

"Here and now" conflicts deal on the reality level with issues, hurt or angry feelings and can more easily be resolved by listening to our partners and paying attention to our partners needs and feelings, rather than having both partners resort to a tired blame game litany of past miscues.

Recently, we collectively watched the Super Bowl where intense cooperation and competition, two great human forces, were engaged. The public loves to watch how cooperatively a team executes its aggressive drives and how another team defensively strives to neutralize them. Human relationships, personal and organizational, have both tendencies so the capacity for either anima (love) or animus (hostility) is ever present. We can opt to cooperate, love and understand, or we can merely cope and hate.

I often refer to a relationship as two "I’s" forming a "we" and creating an "it." If I yield some of my "I" in the (we) relationship, do I diminish myself or does the "we" enhance me? In the romantic phase, the "I" is uniquely buffered somehow --the enemy (ill will) is way out there. Once married, the purr can turn into a growl whereby the enemy is within the marital gate, setting up a new set of behavioral parameters to darken our marital bliss.

Take, for example, an actual situation involving a charming, handsome couple together for more than a dozen years. Her birthday is a few days short of Valentine's Day. He gives her a lovely pearl necklace with matching earrings and gives his sister the same set as a “Valentine’s Day gift.”

When his partner learns of the sister’s gift, she is wounded and angry and wonders how could her husband do such a thing. She is deflated and no longer feels special. He thinks her response is totally unreasonable and that she has gone emotionally nuts. He resents his sister (for having mentioned it to his wife), his family and withdraws in anger. She thinks he is insensitive and emotionally dumb.

I asked two people, not knowing the couple, their take on this. An attorney, married several times,
laughingly said this guy is nuts --and a masochist. An attractive female psychologist said he is giving with one hand and taking with the other one.

Who do you identify with? Put yourself in this drama and briefly give us your comments. Email me at: Dickson@twinsprings.net ? I will tell you what I think in a follow up column.

Dr. Jerry Leff
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