Well the dreaded end of the Mayan Calendar has come and gone we’re all left with the task of going on about our lives. Yep the world is still turning, the sun is shining, and it’s business as usual.
In preparation for the world’s continuance, I’ve been reading a book the last few days. The title is “Love is Never Enough” by Aaron T. Beck, MD. He is the director of the Center for Cognitive Therapy, University of Pennsylvania. The subtitle is; how couples can overcome misunderstandings, resolve, conflicts, and solve relationship problems through Cognitive Therapy.
The book is giving me a ray of hope. I’m about halfway through the book, and it’s getting kind of spooky. One of the couples he counseled and refers to throughout the book so far, l will call them Ken and Barbie, are so much like the Hubman and me that I’m tempted to write the guy a letter and ask him if he’s been spying on us. Maybe we should get some of the royalties from the book sales.
But it is sooo true. Love is never enough, I have relatives that I love with all my heart, but do everything humanly possible to avoid their presence rather than risk my sanity or personal safety. One of the points Aaron makes in the book is that couples can descend into their own private bubble of neurosis and irrational behavior, while being perfectly capable of navigating through relationships with others outside of the wacko marriage bubble with ease and even finesse.
Aaron has many scenarios in the book where he relates a conversation with a couple in 3 columns; 1) The words they said, 2) What their tone of voice and body language says, and 3) what they are thinking. An example taken from our daily life is:
Wife: “Would you get your clothes out of the dryer please.” (Annoyed expression, said with a whiney tone of voice) thinking ‘your stupid clothes have been in the drying for a week and half. What am I your slave or something? I bet you expect me to get your damned clothes out of the dryer and furthermore after 10 years you still act like you’re the only one who lives in this house. You treat me like a piece of furniture. You…you….bastard!’
Husband: “OK” (said in an angry tone, rolls eyes, huffs off with annoyed expression, lips pressed together, refusing to make eye contact) thinking <Insert thought here>I have no clue because I have no idea what he’s thinking and he’s damned sure not gonna tell me or probably anyone else either. Real men don’t do that. OK, I admit that I think sarcastic thoughts when pondering the labyrinths of Hubman’s mind.
If we analyze only the words spoken here there should be no problem. The real trouble lies in the fact that so much is said with body language and tones of voice that the words are close to meaningless. So round and round we go careening from one verbal fiasco to the next.
I’m still in the defining the problems part of the book. I can’t wait to get to the solutions part. The author swears the second half of the book addresses tips on communicating what we actually think in a way that the spouses can understand and respond without immediately escalating to DefCon 1 and all out nuclear annihilation.
So there is hope. I have to think that anyway. No wait, hold that thought. I don’t have to think that. I want to think it.
Update on Christmas tree: Tree is up, ornaments are still in boxes. They may remain there. Maybe I’ll just put my Dr. Seusse-ish tree topper on it and pretend the rest of the stuff doesn’t exist. I’m very good at pretending. That’s my stock and trade. I am a writer after all.