Have you ever woken up with your partner standing above you with a pillow in their hands and tears in their eyes? Has your partner ever given you items (laundry, books, barbells) that have disrupted your balance as you were walking down the stairs? Has your partner brought you for long walks in deserted areas with cliffs and walked ahead of you for the entire time never looking back? Has your partner ever adjusted the brakes on your car before you get to work? Have you nearly been murdered by a hitman, only to escape by the fact that he and your partner got their dates mixed up? Yes. Well, there is a consensus in the counselling community that this may be down to a failing relationship. I mean why else would your partner want you dead? You’re perfect.
All relationships go through ups, downs, and round and rounds. Some fixable, others doomed, and a third group called “what the fuck is going on here?/Doing it for the kids.” This is a grouping with people who are too lazy to split up, too financially invested to move away from each other or who realise that one day they may figure out they love each other again. (Love here being defined as a mirroring of the infant state. I learned that yesterday from a cocky baby).
What is a relationship anyway? Freud defined it a boat that carries your cousins on it, due to the questioner having a stutter. Stoics would say you should never become needy. You should never NEED another person if you love them. As you gaze across the dinner table at your partner whose knuckles are red from gripping their knife and fork, a memory is evoked of their face with pupils dilated and all that mattered was you. The realisation hits that you need to talk. You become that needy stoic hating loser, constantly questioning the validity of the situation. They eventually do a “not a-fucking-gain” arch of their eyebrows and you wander off angrily into a bottle of rum until it dawns on you that yes, you are supremely fucking annoying.
Months go by, without physical contact, sometimes, no eye contact. You discuss the kids as if locked inside the UN. The clever kids look at each other and then from one parent to the other, weighing up the merits of their eventual choice, enquiring of cousins what their parents are like JUST IN CASE. You try never to argue around the kids, but that is impossible. Kids are experts in conflict management as they have spent years observing harassed teachers slowly going mad trying to get through each day.
THE CRISIS: You can’t/won’t break up. The kids matter too much. You don’t want to fight anymore. The spark may be gone but the daily realities haven’t. What to do? Well, maybe turn to quantum mechanics and the idea of quantum superposition: The Schrödinger’s cat relationship counselling paradigm.
METHOD: Both participants walk into a room, placing a recently procured wooden box (from somewhere like Woodies, any kind of wooden box will do. Build your own if you have skills) on the floor. Face each other. Try to make direct eye contact. Take a deep breath. Open the box and mentally place your relationship inside. Before you close the box, place a divisive issue in the corner of the box. Something like the misinterpretation of a night out gone wrong or a who’s who of people who fucked up your wedding, adding weights so as not to balance to one side of the family or other. There is a 50% chance of these issues causing an explosion that will kill the relationship.
Close the box. Your relationship, which has caused so much chaos up until then, is now equal parts alive and dead. It’s in the box. If you open that box you will see exactly what state your relationship is in. Do you want to do this? Well, Einstein, do you? (Einstein retorts, “Don’t bring me in to this! I’m on the toilet”).
So, when your friend, let’s call her Debbie, comes to you and says that she is having problems with Bobbie, tell her that in order for them to have a relationship, it has to exist on many different wavelengths at the same time. However remind Debbie that they will never see wave behaviour from their relationship as it is too big an object. Also, don’t forget the main thing. Debbie is not going to get this. Debbie in particular is what scientists would call, “a thick.” Bobbie is stupider than Debbie, as Bobbie wasn’t born Bobbie, but Bobby. He thinks it’s cool to be called Bobbie. Fuck Bobbie. Bobbie is undiagnosed ‘thick.’
So, if you feel comfortable spending every waking hour with the same person for the rest of your life, yet know that there are issues that could potentially destroy everything that is good there at any moment, consider the box. The box may save you a lot of money and heartache. You will never have the respect of your children though. Children just be like that.