Today’s relationship advice bought to you by letters ‘A’ & ‘H’
If, after an extended period of inactivity you’ve undertaken a high intensity workout, you’ll know the following morning – when you’re forced to walk like a Thunderbird and refrain from sneezing lest you pop a rib or pee yourself from the pain – that this is the body’s way of refocusing your mind on your health.
In much the same way an invitation to a wedding forces you to reflect upon the success or otherwise of your own blessed union. And the punishment for neglecting your marriage: a blessed union can become blistered.Lisa and I recently attended the wedding of my wife’s cousin. Picture them: two fresh-faced first-timers in a race to the altar. Doe eyes. Coy smiles. Deeply in love.
I was reminded of our own wedding two decades earlier; although it occurred to me if Lisa knew then, what she knows now, the only knot she’d be tying would be in the rope affixed to the church bell which she’d secure firmly around my neck before launching me off the bell tower.
I wondered at what point in our relationship did doe eyes became death stares, coy smiles became vengeful smirks, and deeply in love became deep in the sh!t (me, mostly). I guess it stands to reason the union of two love birds should deliver my wake up.
And you know what put me in such a pensive mood? It was something the Minister had said during the service. He used the letters ‘H’ and ‘A’ as metaphors for healthy and unhealthy relationships. He explained:
The two vertical lines in an ‘H’ represent the partners in a relationship standing strong. The horizontal crossbar suggests the couple’s connection. What makes this relationship healthy is that in the event the bond is broken (the crossbar falls), both partners remain standing. And because they’ve maintained their independence, they can continue to move forward in life.
In contrast, the letter ‘A’ depicts relationships in which both partners lean too heavily on each other – indicated by the two diagonal lines. Again, the crossbar represents the couple’s connection, however if something transpires to break this bond, it’s likely one or both will fall flat. This codependence makes for unhealthy relationships.
To me, it made perfect sense. And in an attempt to unearth some strategies to make our relationship more ‘H’ – Healthy, and less ‘A’ – Acerbic, I jumped online and did some research. It quickly became apparent where we’d stuffed up. You might see some similarities in your own relationships.
In our situation, in our quest to become model parents by sacrificing everything to provide for our children, we’ve landed ourselves in hot water.
Because according to the experts, by trying too hard to achieve a Brady Bunch existence, Lisa and I have sold our souls to the devil by surrendering all we’ve held dear which has defined us as individuals – sports, hobbies, intimate outings, social gatherings, close friendships etc.
And by relinquishing our individuality, we’ve become codependent – a classic relationship ‘A’ couple. Because when everything else in a relationship is stripped away, there’s nothing left but to do but lean on each other.
Then, on those rare occasions, sans kids, when you find yourselves alone, you’re likely to look at each other and say, “So, what do we do now?” And if sex isn’t the answer (although, for me it’s always the question), a resentful little gremlin inside your head will pipe up with, “I know – let’s fight…” So the slide into an unhealthy relationship occurs.
My biggest regret in all this is that sometimes the anger and angst has played out in front of our kids. Which we all know is a no-no.
The key to healthy relationships, according to the gurus, lies in joint leisure activities. No, they’re not suggesting you do everything together. Just as they don’t recommend you fly solo in your relationship in and exclude your partner. But, research has shown that joint participation and meaningful interaction in at least some leisure activities is one of the greatest contributors to marital bliss.
I recall a positive example from the days when our relationship was in its infancy: Lisa asked me to join her mixed netball team. Reluctant to put on a skirt, I refused. However, when I discovered a drooling admirer of hers had weaseled his way into the team, I promptly signed up. I figured if he was to make a pass at Lisa, I’d be there to deflect his balls. Anyway, to my surprise I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with both friends and spouse. So, I guess the experts might be onto something. And perhaps this is the type of joint leisure activity we can revisit.
Anyway, now we’ve got the heads up on what we need to address, I’m confident Lisa and I can turn things around. To that end she plans to renew her love for sewing. And I intend to show her my support by allowing her to mend my boardshorts. Me, I plan to get back in touch with my artistic side and pick up my paint brushes. And so Lisa can feel involved, I hope to persuade her to get her gear off and pose for me.
I love it when things fall into place.