Have you seen this new show called Perfect Couples? I believe it is part of NBC’s Thursday night line up along with the Office and 30 Rock. The show is about different couple stereotypes: the self help couple, the make up to break up couple and the couple that suspects they might have settled for one another only to rediscover how perfect they are for each other. The show goes to extreme examples for the purpose of entertainment and it got me thinking…what kind of couple are we?
If you have been reading this blog from the beginning, you know the story of Mr. Right and me. It was a romantic beginning resulting in, what I felt was, a perfect marriage. We frolicked about in the honeymoon stage until one day we woke up and realized…oh shit: this is for real. The same theme prevails in the show and the one couple has the exact same argument that Mr. Right and I have all the time. It goes a little something like this:
MB: “Honey, can you help me move the couch in the office?”
waits in silence
MB: “Honey? HoNEEEE?
Mr. Right: with distain “What do you want?”
MB: with newfound bitchiness “Can you tear yourself away from whatever critically important thing you are doing and come help me move this couch?”
Mr. Right enters room appearing grossly inconvenienced and beholds an angry MB
Mr. Right: “What’s wrong?”
Mr. Right: “No, I can tell something is upsetting you.”
MB: “Nothing.” Shoots Mr. Right looks of death
Mr. Right: whilst moving couch “Honey, tell me what’s wrong.”
MB: “I didn’t appreciate the attitude when I asked for your help.”
Mr. Right: “What attitude?”
MB: impersonating Mr. Right “I asked for your help and you said ‘WHAAAAT!?”
*explosive accusatory verbal warfare ensues
Perhaps this is a lame example, but what I am trying to demonstrate and what the show is also attempting to prove is that our perception of our partner’s actions can drive us to react in a combative or exaggerated nature. In this example, I wanted help. I was probably tired from a long day at work and irritated by the idea of moving furniture. Maybe I could hear the TV in the background and became further agitated by the fact that Mr. Right was relaxing while I was stuck with housework. Mr. Right on the other hand, had also come home from a full day of work. He cracked open a beer, put his feet up and tuned into his DVR, only to be interrupted by the shrill of his wife’s voice. Why did she want to move furniture this very minute? His show was just getting started and housework was low on his list of priorities. Mr. Right and I are both entering the situation with frustration and preconceived annoyance. With duel bad attitudes, an argument is unavoidable.
Mr. Right and I are admittedly extra sensitive people; our feelings get hurt easily. In addition to that common trait, we also are both very independent fostered by years of living and supporting ourselves as single people. This combination of heightened sensitivity and fierce independence makes the teamwork efforts of a perfect couple hard to master. Constructive criticism (i.e.: my impersonation of him offending me) makes us defensive of one another and the concept of work together for a greater good is lost. Our defensive walls go up and the communication breaks down. It happens so often I gave it a name, maybe it even describes what kind of couple we are…emotionally territorial.
Am I saying Mr. Right is Mr. Wrong? Are we headed for inevitable doom and disaster? No, no, no, not at all, we are just novice communicators who have not fully abandoned our independent lifestyle behaviors. We are breaking out of our old habits and learning what sinks and what swims in terms of our marriage. We embody certain stereotypical “couple” labels and they are not all positive. However, I have faith that we can be the emotionally territorial couple and still weather the storm. The real key to survival is being honest about your joint shortcomings and acknowledging the part you play in the failure of communication. Mr. Right and I have agreed to sit down on a weekly basis and talk more about why we act and react the way we do. We can already see the progress because our preconceived notions of one another’s attitudes are changing. We can look in the mirror and wave confidently to the imperfect couple that is our reflection because we know those two people are committed to each other happiness and ultimately to becoming a better team.
More on this soon…hope you are well ~ MB