Now, I don’t want this to get ugly so let me begin by stating the obvious: Both people in a relationship are individuals who come with their own set of interests and beliefs. It’s the sharing of some of those interests that help to nurture and grow the union. Agree? Good. Now, on with the show.
Anyone in a long-term relationship knows there are a few phrases or sentences that when uttered can spell disaster with absolutely no good ever coming from them. One of those is, “Hey you perv, look what I found in your browser history,” but we’ll save that one for a future column. The one that I’m more concerned with today is, “We never do anything together.” That one delivers quite a punch with very little wiggle room to escape. There’s really no actual response that could mitigate the potential damage. It’s clearly designed to elicit emotion and ultimately anger from the intended recipient, i.e.; you!
A typical instinctive retort to that verbal hand grenade could well be, “What do you mean?” Let me just say definitively the only way that response could be any worse is if you added the words, “We just got back from Hannaford.”
Sadly, many times the mere utterance of the words, “We never do anything together,” seems to be, I dare say, premeditated. The person initiating the salvo, for whatever reason, will more than likely be in a combative mood, primed and ready to take the proverbial gloves off. I might also add that if one attempts to ‘diffuse’ the situation by attempting humor and responds with, “Oh, come on. Name eighteen things that makes us so different,” it’s very likely that response will be perceived as patronizing and that will, without question, result in you having to make up the bed in the spare room.
I will share what many in successful relationships have learned over the years. It never hurts to count to three before responding, sometimes, I’ve found that fifty or even a hundred works better, depending on your mood. Silence is always the better option. It makes it impossible to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.
Truthfully, it’s always important to acknowledge and recognize the other person’s feelings. This is key to any relationship. By doing so you are demonstrating that you care and that you truly want to grow and nurture the relationship. This can be done easily by feigning a serious tone and offering, “I hear what you’re saying and I can tell this means a lot to you. Let’s talk about it…right after the game.”
It’s possible that an astute person can head the instigator off at the pass, by that I mean to be able to sense, in advance, when the unwanted discourse is about to unfold. A simple, “Boy, it’s been a long time since we’ve been over to your mother’s house,” or, “I hear they’re having a wonderful sale at Bed, Bath & Beyond,” ought to do the trick. Warning: This method should never be used unless you have the utmost confidence in being able to read your partner.
I’d like to conclude by saying that there is no such thing as the perfect relationship or even the perfect partner. Every successful relationship takes compromise. When both parties participate, guess what? You are doing something together! Pretty neat, huh? Now, where is that damn remote?