RELATIONSHIPS: Putting up with … and drawing the line.

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Relationships always challenge us to our core. What do we put up with and where do we draw the line? A friend of mine just broke up with the person he was living with because of her drinking habit. His values were all about health and he felt that her drinking was not good for her or for the relationship. His honesty about the situation was taken as insult. Things got ugly. He called it quits.

This brings up a key issue in relationship: How much do we put up with for the sake of remaining together? Katherine Hepburn and the love of her life Spencer Tracy were together for 27 years. He refused to divorce his previous wife, and he was a notorious alcoholic. When an interviewer once asked her how she handled his alcoholism she replied, “It’s his problem, not mine!” WoW! I find that enormous! What a powerful sense of Self she had!

Of course, not all alcoholics are created equal. Some are nasty drunks, vicious and violent, wrecking havoc with all concerned. Others become more lovable. Others use alcohol to relax and become less inhibited. Whatever the case, it all comes down to where to draw the line, and how to deal with the elephant in the room.

Of course, in relationships there are many forms of addiction of which alcoholic is just one. There’s being a workaholic, a shop-a-holic, a hoarder-a-holic, a rage-a-holic, a clothes addict, a food-a-holic, a greed-a-holic,  … the list goes on and on. And basically, all these cravings are to fill a deeper need of not enough-ness. They also serve as an excuse, a shield or wall to the primary relationship with one another. That’s when the addiction takes over and becomes the primary relationship. The person who is addicted often says, “It doesn’t mean that much to me” to which a good response is, “Well, if it’s not that important to you then QUIT!”

So now we come down to the basic element of values. Do you share the same values? Because that’s ultimately what you live with every day in a relationship. And how far are you able to stretch in order to accommodate the habits of your partner?

The couples I find that do the best are the ones who are able to be both independent and a couple, that is, maintain their own individuality and also blend together as a couple. Here are 3 stages to consider: 1/ dependent 2/ co-dependent 3/ inter-dependent. Dependent involves needing someone else to take care of you, much like being a child whose very survival is dependent on the parent. Co-dependent is where neither can stand alone but somehow manage as a unit, but one is lost without the other. Inter-dependent is where you can fully function on your own but choose instead to work together in the give and take of being a couple.

Relationships are complex and there are many reasons people tough them out to remain together. Relationships are energies that are always in flux. Like the tides in the sea there is always an ebb and flow. They take time and attention. If you are not growing closer you are growing apart. James Hillman reminds us that relationships are not about happily ever after but about soul-building. I am of the opinion that it’s good to let your partner know on a daily basis that you love them, for you never know what tomorrow will bring. There’s always something good about being together; make more good … and keep your eyes on the horizon, not on the waves.

 

~~Paulette Frankl

Feb 7, 2016

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