The ability to discuss your relationship issues will always be the cornerstone of a good, healthy relationship. It doesn’t matter what your bent is or how many people are involved, talking trumps. It’s especially critical when it’s not easy; when things get hard, hurtful and complicated and you just want to bury yourself in the couch with piping hot butter popcorn.
So, am I being a little hypocritical when I say don’t discuss your relationship issues with your family? I used to do it. When I was with my ex we’d have a fight and after hurling abuse at him, I’d dial mumma and in my highly emotional state blurt out all the horrible things he'd done and said.
Her response was predictable, usually something along the lines of “he’s an idiot. dump him.” It served its immediate purpose, I got the “I knew I was right” hit and then I’d hang up, cool down, most likely have great make up sex with the guy followed by burritos.
Meanwhile, mum was busy making a red flashing sign for her mental notebook of how much of a loser my partner was and then telling everyone else in the family how I’d gone and chosen someone from Loserville again.
And every time this would happen the insults and opinions would build and simmer and build and simmer. I’d get the usual “I’ve never liked him, he’s ugly, he’s a player”, all incredibly heated, emotionally charged words that were neither constructive nor supportive. After all, I did not have a gun to my head when I said "yes" to a date with him.
The ones who love you are always going to have your back and they are always gonna dislike the douchebag that hurt their baby. Unless your fambam is made up of incredibly enlightened individuals, they won't be interested in hearing both sides of a story.
It’s beyond amazing to have loyal and loving family and friends but they won’t help your relationship. What we tell them is very rarely a rendition of the truth; our partners will always be wrong and we will always be right.
But while our partners can be selfish fuckwits, so can we. And two selfish fuckwits sticking together and working things out is better than involving others who really have no idea about your relationship. They are gonna throw around their opinions and form their judgements based on no fact just pure emotion.
In my experience most of my family's dislike for my previous partners has been a result of my tendency to be highly emotional and my inability to be objective*.
Maybe you’re someone who walks around saying “I don’t give a shit what people think about me or my partner”. I’ve had that attitude too but it’s incredibly tiring to brush off your family’s criticisms of your love choice time and time again.
I also know how incredibly joyful it is when there is a strong partition between your relationship and your family. My partner has been an arse at times but on the whole he’s a pretty awesome guy and my family have grown to develop their own loving feelings towards him based on their own interactions and experiences. As it should be.
So, how do you deal with your relationship issues if you choose not to talk to those nearest and dearest? Here are my tips:
Diaries and journals are not just for horny teenagers. Write down how you’re feeling, tell your journal how much of a fuckwit your partner is. Draw a picture of him with a really small penis. Work through it with stream of consciousness or in morse code or in imagery, the point is, do it free of anyone else’s opinions.
Give yourself space
Your instinct after fighting with your partner will probably be to pick up the phone and talk to someone about it. Try to resist the urge. You are upset, hurt and you’re most likely going to say things that are neither true nor helpful to your relationship. Give yourself space. Go for a run, masturbate, eat cherry pie. Cool down.
They’re a fuckwit, you’re a fuckwit, we’re all fuckwits
Nobody is perfect. We are all flawed individuals. We all have our own ugly traits. We are all fuckwits. You probably both contributed to this drama. Own it.
Go to a shrink
It’s really refreshing to talk stuff through with someone who doesn’t care about you. Therapists may secretly have some ideas about who is right and who is wrong but shrinks aren’t allowed to tell you that, all they can do is facilitate a conversation. My partner and I now go occasionally as a preventative measure, so that we can check in and vent in a really healthy and expensive way. (hot tip: try to find one that’s invested in a comfy couch).
Talk to your family &/or friends when you’ve taken a chill pill
Even after all my amazing advice, if you still want to talk to your mum/bestie then try to do it when the “event” is no longer the life-threatening drama that it was. If you can do this you will find that you’ll probably tell a more objective story, one that will reflect more of the truth.
And if at the end of all this, your lover is still making you cry then just dump the fucker. No love lost here.
* this of course does not apply to abusive relationships. If you are experiencing abuse of any kind, we urge you to reach out to your close family and friends and/or contact one of the many helplines available.
Australia - 1800 737 732 (1800Respect)
UK - 0808 2000 247 (National Domestic Helpline)
USA - 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) - National Domestic Violence Hotline)
image by April Eileen Henry