Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.
-- Phyllis Diller
Emotional Codependency -- Not Love
From my experience by observing so many couples in my life, I can safely say without any guesswork, that many couples treat their relationship like a "sweet poison of choice". Let's say, the way someone would view their smoking addiction, while saying something like: "I can't imagine living without it" -- in this case meaning their spouse.
And just like with the smoking habit, they are far from really deriving a genuine happiness out of it, so there are times when they may have said to themselves: "Why did I ever start it?"
Over time they managed to build a marital comfort zone of sheer codependency, a routine of interaction which was far from comfortable for either of them, but they somehow learned to play that game without neither mentioning divorce.
Arguments are regular on the menu of their interacting, but as if by a silent agreement, they keep them within their familiar repertoire -- with same blames, same lectures, same complaints, same cursing.
For breaks they use gossips -- but again, they don't contain anything new, with always same people to be badmouthed, and those may be isolated moments of armistice when they may truly agree about those "crazy, neurotic, insecure, mean, sick looking, boring...people.
A relationship with no arguments is a relationship with a lot of secrets.
Feeling Lost Outside Their Comfort Zone
The only thing worse than their unholy marital matrimony are those times when it's somehow disrupted as they have to act out of the character of that routine.
Namely, they got so used to feel good only when they feel bad that a sudden challenging situation may be forcing them to act normal. Like visits of feuding family, or friends who would just love to catch them in argument, so that they would have something to gossip about.
So, those are the times when they a kind of don't feel at home in their own skin, having to play somebody else. Those hours outside their comfort zone are torturous to them. All those phony smiles, and those stupid compliments, those questions about things they totally don't care about.
They need their regular dose of bitching almost physically, and it's not rare that they develop a symptom like a headache or an acid stomach -- just from being forced to act normal.
What a relief it is as their guests leave, and now they find the smallest thing to start a long missed argument.
"What did you mean when you said that you liked me better with blond hair? Like I am supposed to like your constant burping at the table..."
"Why did you tell them how forgetful I am, I told you I was going to fix that porch rail this weekend!"
And now they truly feel in their old element -- something that they can always count on in their codependent, crazy, beloved relationship.
If you don't argue in a relationship, believe me, you are not in a relationship.
"Nobody Is Perfect"-- Excuse Used by Too Many
I used to know a couple who, giggling, admitted how their best sex was after their arguments -- with a full package, even including smacking each other.
Yes, I've seen some truly colorful characters in my eight decades. Actually some much worse than the above mentioned; those that you only read about in novels and you never thought that you would come across them personally some day.
But that's what makes life more interesting, I would say.
Now, there is no way to tell how often I've heard the old, worn out adage: "No one is perfect". And that would be just about the same number of times when I would bite my tongue not to say: "But not being perfect doesn't mean being downright stupid".
For, even geniuses are not perfect human specimens, so imperfect is not synonymous to stupid. My definition of stupid is not "making mistakes", but making the same ones over and over, while refusing to learn anything.
And so many couples living in a dysfunctional comfort zone can't be called anything but stupid.
Now, with all this "marital moralizing" I don't want to make a wrong impression of someone being dead serious about the nature of marital relationships -- like one of those religious fundamentalists preaching about "Ten Commandments of Proper Marriage".
So, just like I oftentimes satirize my own writing abilities -- while not sparing others' either -- and now, as my wedding anniversary is coming in three days -- if you asked me how long I've been married, I might say: "Fifty eight years, and I have a lot of bruises to prove it."
We joke a lot in my family. I get called "Papa Smurf", and sometimes as kids ask me: "How do you know all that, dad?", I may answer: "Hey, don't you know, I am Wile-e Coyote, Super Genius" (the loser-"genius" from the Road Runner show),
Along with my peripatetic -- unnaturally flexible mind, I don't really criticize anything and anybody, again, it's merely observing-diagnosing-sharing.
It was a sheer fun writing about what I observed about couples living in comfort zone marriages. I hope you got some fun reading as well.
© 2022 Val Karas