Category: Don’s Blog

Perversity and Playfulness in Couples

PART 1 of 3

There is the story about the man who goes to see his doctor for an exam. After getting a very through checkup the doctor calls the man’s wife into his office without the husband and says to her that her husband is very ill.  The doctor says her husband has a life-threatening condition and things do not look very good.  However, if she is willing to be at the husband’s beck and call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is willing to cater to his every want and desire, making him special breakfasts in the morning, give him wonderful meals in the evening, sending him off to work with wonderfully prepared lunches, making love to him whenever he’s desirous of her, and generally doing everything to make him completely happy, for the next several months, there is a excellent likelihood her husband will pull through it and be okay.

The couple then pair up and as they are driving home the husband turns to his wife and asks, “So what did the doctor tell you?”

To which his wife replied, “He told me you’re going to die.”

WORTHY OPPONENTS

Murray Bowen once said, “A good marriage is where you have two worthy opponents.” Although I have only studied Dr. Bowen‘s work in Family Systems Thinking and never met him – or Mrs. Bowen – nor do I have any insight into how they were as a couple, I imagine what he was addressing something akin to the “Pot and Lid” theory of marriage. It states: For every pot there is a lid. Or to put it more crudely, we get what or who we deserve. What this means is we seem to marry someone who is roughly at about the same level of anxiousness as we are. In other words, if you think your partner is the cat’s meow, you got what you deserve. If you think your partner is a horse’s you-know-what, well then…

This isn’t always so obvious. We might marry someone who hides their anxiousness or who expresses it differently, but the level of anxiety is usually right about up there where our own operates. If one is say, overly talkative, the other is often very quiet, or if one is over responsible the other may be under responsible. But these are still anxious responses of equal intensity.

But back to the notion of “worthy opponents” one could build a case regarding the doctor in the story as being in cahoots with the husband. We therapist types like to call this triangulation. But the point is that the wife is not buying it. She is as worthy an opponent as they come. Rarely does a partner respond to such irresponsibility on the part of their partner with this degree of style and grace. She doesn’t balk or cave into the anxious climate, which her husband and his doctor have created.

Undoubtedly a few of you are not buying into seeing the wife as the heroine. After all, you say, this man is sick. He needs compassion. He needs sympathy, understanding not obnoxiousness. My question to you, then, is this: Can the wife’s response be viewed as compassion? Is it possible that she is giving her husband exactly what he requires and is not giving into her own anxiousness and therefore providing an important challenge to her husband?

I contend that she is being playful, and in doing so she provides her partner with the best chance for life – metaphorically speaking and literally, as well.

Love

Love and good will can take a couple just so far. The difficulty with love is that we are extremely vulnerable.  When we are in love we begin to confuse it with anxiety. Caring often turns out to be an anxious response. I become anxious, so I do something. Often what I end up doing is good for me since it relieves my anxiety, but it’s not necessarily good for the one I supposedly take the action for. I take care of you by doing something for you when the better thing may have been to challenge you to take care of yourself. I have a friend who drives himself like there is no tomorrow. Every so often his back gives out and he is laid up for a few days at home in terrible pain. He can’t move and he feels miserable and depressed. People come over and give him lots of sympathy and take care of him. The last time this happened I stopped by and said “Look, you damn fool. You’re stuck at home because you don’t know how to put balance into your life and you never give yourself a rest. I am certainly sorry for the pain you’re presently having, but I will not reinforce this pattern in your life by joining in with all the others and saying, ‘You poor thing.’ So while you lay here I suggest you spend some time figuring out how to make whatever changes you need to make so your back doesn’t have to take such abuse and strain all the time.”

Am I mean? Cruel? Judgmental? All I know is it would be much easier to be sympathetic and supportive and nice rather than to love by challenge. My friend knows I love him and I know him well enough, so I take the risk and address him this way. After seemingly kicking a man when he is down, he smiles and says, “You’re right.”  Eventually we even laugh about all those crazy people who have been trying to make him feel better. If the sledgehammer approach didn’t get him to come around, I was prepared to talk to him about making funeral plans.

End of Part 1 – Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

Part 2 and 3 to come

Marriage is like dancing

Have you noticed at almost any wedding reception when the dancing begins there are some people who don’t dance? They never get up and participate in any of the dancing. Instead these couples just sit along the side lines at their table, and they merely watch the others out on the dance floor; while they themselves don’t dance at all.
Sometimes, there is one of these seated couples and one partner wants to dance but the other partner doesn’t so they just sit and watch other people dancing about on the dance floor. And the one that wants to dance sits there sad and resigned, or they’re resentful, or perhaps even angry. Occasionally the one that wants to dance decides to take some action, and this one leaves the table to seek out someone who is interested in dancing with them. They go off, while their partner remains at the table along with others who are not dancing, and this one that left then starts to dance with the new person, or maybe several others who like to dance and are interested.
Then there are the folks who do go out onto the dance floor and they do some basic dancing. Maybe years ago they started out learning the Basics. So now they do those same basic steps to all the music, dancing the same dance they originally learned regardless of how the music is. If it’s fast or slow they do their 1-step all across the floor. And even though it is not very interesting or really very attractive they seem to be having a bit of fun. After all, they are out there; they are out on the dance floor and they are dancing. They’re doing their dance – dancing the same way they first learned no matter what the beat of the music.
And then there are those coupes that really stand out. These are the couples who seem to know all of the different dance steps. Perhaps they took some dance classes, and then they continued to keep up by learning all the latest dances that have come along. And so these couples are out there on the dance floor and they really shine as they glide by seemingly effortlessly to the various beats of all the different dances – whether it’s the fox trot, the Chacha, the Lindy, or even the Tango. These few couples seem to really know how to dance; and as they do so we all are drawn to watch them. We are mesmerized by these extraordinary couples who look so beautiful and are so inspiring to experience – move along, together as one –
having such a wonderful time.

The Art and Practice of Victimhood: 10 steps of highly successful victims

It’s practically become a national pastime, and for some it seems they are not only quite skillful and proficient at it, but seem to come by it naturally. If you lack expertise in this all-too-important 21st Century talent, do not despair. With enough persistence and good coaching, you, too, can learn the skills of becoming an effective victim, and thus reap the rewards so many have already discovered. Simply subscribe to these following guidelines, and you’ll be more than on your way to an opportunistic future of VICTIMHOOD:

#1: PRACTICE DAILY NEGATIVE AFFIRMATIONS

Everything starts with commitment. Keep your goal in the forefront by reciting at the start of each day, “I am a victim, I am a victim. I cannot help myself.” Say this as you rise from bed each morning; repeat it often throughout your day. Periodically add in, “This is the worst day of my life.” It’s so important that you make your statements completely negative and in the present tense. Never say something like, “It might be a so-so day”, or “I will someday become a victim.” Live your goal of negativity in the Present Moment. “I am a victim, NOW.”

If during the day you slip into saying something positive, cancel it out immediately. Replace it with a more powerful and negative statement. Not to worry; your mind can’t keep two thoughts at the same time, so by making the negative thought more dominant and forceful, over time, old lingering positive thoughts will completely disappear from your consciousness.

#2: BE PREPARED TO SACRIFICE EVERYTHING

Victimhood is yours, but not without a cost. It demands you give up older, commonly held, societal illusions – things like happiness, success, or peace of mind. Once you let go of these otherwise evasive notions, and focus on the security that comes with being a victim, you’ll be better able to commit to a life of safe regret and stable resignation. Consistent despair will be available to you anytime by simply recalling all those things you once foolishly pursued.

#3: BLAME YOUR PARENTS

The cornerstone of victimhood is to blame one’s parents. Ultimately our parents will always fail us and this is the stuff that can catapult you into a life of sweet woundedness. When someone tries to back you into a corner, your ace in the hole is to bring up your parent’s ineptness. This sage advice has done more to develop the practice of victimhood than any other has. It will defeat the most progressive challenger.
“Don’t you realize the kind of parents I had? My parents argued too much, never argued, weren’t affectionate, were too affectionate, divorced when I was nine years old, 19 years old, 29 years old, this week…, were too into their marriage.”
“My mother didn’t hold me enough; held me too much.”
“My father was a jerk, was never around, was around too much, drank too much, gambled too much, was too shy, too tall, too Italian, too Jewish, old fashion, uptight, too free wheeling.”
Incorporate such useful phrases into your daily negative affirmations and use them on people who don’t know any better than to mess with you.

#4: SURROUND YOURSELF WITH REALLY “NICE” PEOPLE

People pleasers are often extremely tolerant. This is the sort of people you want around you. They’re less likely to press you about taking responsibility for your own life. Their good manners and politeness will leave plenty of room for your budding skills to develop and advance. There is great opportunity to be had in surrounding yourself with tolerant people, and it would be foolish not to exploit each and every nice person you possibly can.

#5: GET A MENTOR

Look for others to teach you how to complain with outrage. Learn by imitating these pros. Every office or job seems to have its “Poor-Me” types, its garden-variety negativists, and its Mr. or Mrs. Whiner. Learn from these “gifted controlling scam artists” by studying what they do so well, and see what it will take for you to get in their league. Make friends with a drama queen or king. Practice whatever you observe from these masters of manipulation, and begin to put your new skills into practice at coffee breaks, lunchtimes, after hours, or even better – during work time. This is why schools have teacher’s lounges, and what work cafeterias were made for. Soon, you’ll realize how you can take bitching and moaning to new levels. Also, you have the benefit of putting your own body into a state of depression and fatigue, as well as having a similar effect on those around you. This will further cultivate a sense of toxicity permeating from you and will reinforce your valiant efforts at victimhood to further heights.

#6: CULTIVATE YOUR SENSE OF PARANOIA

Repeat this and do it often: “People are out to get me and screw me over.” Just by saying it, you will make it a solid belief to live by. Take everything others say about you as a personal attack. Use your God-given imagination to react quickly with incensed indignation, throwing back any inconsistencies you can discover or manufacture about other people.

With practice you can create your own personal conspiracy theory:
“My parents were out to destroy me before I was born.”
“Every teacher I had hated me.”
“Nobody ever wants to be with me.”
“People always try to take advantage of me.”
“My sister was always jealous. She couldn’t stand it when I got something.”

Takes these ideas and look for instances in your past that you can use or draw upon as evidence to support them. Use words like “Always” or “Never” whenever there was one or two instances to draw from. Build upon them and eventually you’ll have a shut-tight case of this “Truthiness.” Remember that if you say anything long enough and often enough, it will be taken as reality.

#7: MAKE OTHERS RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR RELATIONSHIPS

Never take responsibility for your relationships; always make the other person totally responsible. Say things like:
“She only cares about herself.”
“It’s his fault we broke up. He was such a jerk!”
“He/she never calls me!”
If you can say these kinds of things with a weak and whinny voice, it’s even better. Under no circumstance should you call; instead wait by your phone, feeling sorry for yourself. While you sit there make a list of all the reasons he/she doesn’t call ill-fated you. This is where daily negative affirmations will begin to pay off.
“He/she hates me.”
“He/she thinks I’m stupid.”
“I bore her.”
“I made a fool of myself.”
“People never like me once they get to know me.”

If you eventually do get called just rationalize it.
“She’s/He’s just doing it out of obligation, not out of any real caring!” With your persistence you will discourage any continued or further contact and will best of all, you’ll be building that air-tight case of being right.

#8: SELECT A STYLE THAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU

Decide what style of victimhood best suits your personality. The ever-popular poor-me approach is great for controlling others. It operates mostly with passivity and guilt.
“It figures. Nothing good ever happens to me. I’m not lucky like you.”
“I was born at the wrong time, wrong place, wrong family…”

By consistently using your negative affirmations, combined with criticism and gossip, the poor-you can generate a circle of people who will feel sorry and who will eagerly take over, unwittingly colluding in your helplessness and ill fate.

Over time these emerging patterns of pitiful victimhood will be cemented into place and you will never again be expected to pull your own weight. The persona of a pathetic creature that you have created can now sit back and relax, knowing you provide fulfillment to so many others. Over-functioners will sweep in and over-extend themselves further and further, taking more and more responsibility, as you subsequently take on less and less.

For the more serious and dedicated victim there is the rageful victim approach. This is for the more enterprising person – the one with the stamina to inflict outrage and indignation into every possible situation. Initially a more difficult approach; but once mastered, it offers several advantages. It endears you to no one. It provides substantially more lasting power, and it is likely to expedite serious health problems that can only further fuel your life as a victim.

The rageful victim is successful when dealing with even the most dedicated helpers of this world. There is also greater satisfaction from dampening the heretofore-indomitable spirits of those who generally think of themselves as good and decent folks. Lash out with random acts of rage and contempt when someone mistakenly presents some helpful way to improve your lot in life, and you will provoke these otherwise kindly people to the most unsympathetic reactions – which will both surprise and distress them. Show no mercy. Demonstrate you’re most intense and irritating combination of contempt and anger.
“That’s pretty easy for someone like you who was born with a silver spoon in his naive and pathetic mouth to say! You don’t have a clue about all I’ve had to go through!”

If the helper is initially undaunted, continue your attack.
“You really make me sick; you and your stupid advice! As if you’re so perfect. Try minding your own business for a change!”

With persistence, the most recalcitrant helper will back away and avoid you like the plague. Rest assuredly you’ll enrolled them as your best ambassadors – forewarning all others that you are NOT to be reckoned with!

#9: ALWAYS FOCUS ON THE NEGATIVE AND POTENTIALLY BAD IN LIFE

Newspapers, internet and other media news really help with this. With diligence you can always find the cloud amidst the sunshine.
“Yeah it’s nice now, but it won’t last. Believe me we’ll pay for it later.”
Look for the down side in every event. This method is called the “sinkhole” effect.
“People only pretend to be nice because they want something.”
“He only donated to that charity as a tax write-off.”

Dig enough and you’ll always manage to find something to complain about. When things go 99% well, focus on the 1% that didn’t. If you find a dollar on the sidewalk, complain that it wasn’t ten. Say your back hurts from bending over to get that dollar, or that the money had germs on it.
In restaurants talk about how the steak on someone else’s plate has cancer causing chemicals. You can always say to the waitperson that the plate of food at a neighboring table looks nicer than yours does. When asked how you’re doing, launch into a litany of physical ailments – real and imagined – as well as the terrible things that happened to you that day.
“I had to go downtown today. It was awful; couldn’t get a parking space; didn’t have enough quarters for the meter…I worried about getting a ticket. The clerk was so rude and took forever… I was late for my meeting…had a headache all day long and I think I’m dying!”

#10: GET INTO THERAPY

Find a therapist. Find lots of them. Join groups. Attend workshops. Get diagnosed. Nothing is more useful for a victim than the language of psychotherapy.
“I’m an Adult Child of Alcoholics.”
“I’m an Adult Child of Normal Parents.”
“I was verbally abused.”
“I’m having a mid-life crisis.”
“I was under nourished in my previous life.”
“I can’t help myself, I’m neurotic.”
Don’t find just any therapist; find one willing to do the work for both of you. With a good diagnostic label, some genetically based notions for your malady, and an over-responsible therapist, you are well on your way to avoiding any treatment plan that comes anywhere close to your taking responsibility for anything.

If you begin to even suspect your therapist may be working up the nerve to offer some psychological insight.
“You know, Billy (age 43 and still living with his parents), it seems to me that getting fired seven times from seven different jobs in less than four years is a bit unusual. Do you suppose you might have something to do with what you describe as a string of bad luck? I mean, maybe not all of it, but maybe some of it. What do you think, Billy?”
Dump this therapist immediately! She’s onto you and it’s unlikely that she’ll ever let up. If need be, explode into a fit of well-rehearsed rage.
“You’re just like all the others! (Meaning the seven therapists you fired for saying very similar things). You have no idea what it’s like for me. I’m damaged! All my bosses hated me. My mother didn’t hold me enough/held me too much. My father was a jerk! Too old fashion! Too uptight! Too normal! And now I have this lousy therapist who expects me to be more responsible! You don’t understand, and now you’ve made me so upset. It’s all your fault!”
Then, immediately leave.

When you walk past the receptionist, do not let your smile be visible. Wait until you are safely outside before you approvingly notch one more shattered human being into your victimhood belt. With these ten steps, when it comes to victimhood, they’re all amateurs. You are the professional. You have what it takes.

22550 approx. words

Written by Donald J. Paglia
Copyright @ 10/12/2016
Permission to limited copying provided source information is included
donjpaglia@gmail.com, website: donjpaglia.com