Complications of a Relationship
Relationships can be frustrating when we need to balance our own personal needs and desires with those of our partner. The following scenario can be used to address this issue. A couple discusses the results of the husband’s recent physical with his doctor. The doctor informs them his lab reports show a steady increase, with cirrhosis being just around the corner. He rationalizes his drinking by saying his lab results are still in the normal range. The wife doesn’t want to spend the rest of her life as a caregiver due to self-centered and self-destructive patterns her husband chooses.
People generally view this from their perspective to legitimize that view, but how can we choose to be in a relationship and not consider the impact of our choices on those we claim to love? Actually, both perspectives can be viewed as dysfunctional. It’s inappropriate for us to pressure others and expect them to change for us, even when we can legitimize the reasons for change. All changes pushed on us by others tend to be temporary and/or conditional, so even if change takes place it’s usually just a delay, not a fix. It’s also inappropriate to choose to be in a relationship and not consider how our choices impact our loved ones.
The husband can choose to live on his own and do whatever he wishes, or he can stay and face his wife’s frustration. The wife can choose to leave the relationship, as staying, criticizing and complaining will never give her satisfaction, or she can learn to make the most of a less than desirable situation. We all have pictures in our head of what would be ideal, but that’s generally a narrow, self-centered perspective. We can explore options together as supportive partners. What needs are being met by the alcohol? What options might also meet those needs? Weighing out the cost of each choice (both to the individual and relationship), can alternatives be cost effective for each? The key is being a non-judgmental, respectful support system for each other without enabling dysfunction, holding each accountable without expecting change.
To discuss this or other issues, Dr. Levine can be reached at 661-877-8378.
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