Perfect relationships exist at the tip of a romance writer's pen. In this magical world, love is great. The world is right. However, a perpetually perfect relationship doesn't exist. Rips are inevitable. Avoid them, repair them, and your strengthen your emotional bond with the one that you love.
Sooner or later practically everyone has relationship interference provoking strains (RIPS). For example, magnify minutia about what your mate does, and you can bushwhack intimacy, sabotage sex, and capsize your dreams for a quality relationship.
Because of normal human faults, RIPS can occur at any time, under different conditions, for different reasons, and in varied degree. Even small RIPS can grow into big nightmares.
Couples, whose love matures healthily, tend to ignore the small stuff. They put effort into what matters, such as building the relationship. But for some, a relationship is like walking on the hot coals of illusions, false expectations, and blame. When this happens, welcome to the land of RIPS. It's here where damaged relationships flourish. It is also a place where small positive changes can lead to great gains.
Psychological illusions feed RIPS. These illusions are something you believe are real and true. They may reflect a partial truth, but are generally self-deceiving. You expect your mate to be a love god or love goddess and permanently stay in a good mood for you. This illusion can fuel a battle when your mate veers from your false expectation. Put yourself in a position to recognize and curb such self-deceptions, and your relationship will be on the mend. You'll avoid needless disappointment. You'll have more intimate joys with your beloved.
Blame is a way of assigning accountability and for taking responsibility for your actions. That definition of blame has social value. Blame also has extensions, such as villainizing your mate for mistakes or for violating your expectations. That needless form of blame is a relationship buster. Drop extensions of blame from your relationship, and you eliminate what may be the biggest reason for relationship RIPS and strains.
Relationship RIPS and Remedies
Once past the oxytocin effect (love chemical) people become their usual imperfect selves. That is often the tipping point for strife. Forearm yourself about how RIPS occur, and you can prevent many unpleasant consequences.
If you want to preserve and improve your relationship, let's look at six sample RIPS and how to mend them. (For convenience, I use the second person tense, you, to refer to all parties in a RIPS dispute.)
1. False Freedom. Think of yourself as able to do whatever you please and you may call this freedom. Think again. How is this freedom different from self-indulgence? For example, ignore your mate's interests and do whatever you want, and don't be surprised when RIPS appear. To mend the RIPS, consider that you may have misinterpreted the meaning of freedom. Place prudent restraints on what you do. Step on a self-control path and enjoy the freedom to choose responsibly over self-indulgence.
2. ESP Illusions. Act like your partner has extra sensory perception. Whenever your mate does not anticipate what you want, complain bitterly. Start by saying "You should know without my telling you." The solution is laughingly simple. Ask for what you want, and you may get it. Make a quid-pro-quo deal. Give your mate something in return for what you want.
3. Emotional Blackmail. If you don't get your way, threaten something drastic. Say you will walk out, get a divorce, have an affair, get drunk, or complain to the neighbors. This illusion of control is manipulative and self-deluding. Figure it out. What do you gain by blackmailing? What do you lose? If you don't like the blackmailing results, try a different way.
4. Parent your Mate. You see your mate as a reform school project. As your mate heads for the refrigerator, you say, "Be careful not to drop anything on the floor." You mate misplaces a set of keys. Say, "Can't you do anything right?" These mental scripts make for quick RIPS. Your awareness of the origins for negative scripting may help. Do you repeat your parent's angry thoughts? Are you getting back at your mate? Do you need to feel in control? Whatever the cause, if you want to do better, it is your responsibility to act better. For example, spills on the floor are easier to mop than it is to repair RIPS.
5. Perfect Person Trap. Call yourself flawless. Expect your mate to act according to your personal book of rules. When something goes wrong, blame your mate. You are likely to feel exasperated and justified in criticizing your mate's imperfections. (Predictable scripts are for novels where the writer controls the story.) To escape this quixotic quest, change course. What do you like about your mate? What do you dislike? How do the positive and negative sides of this ledger add up? (To build a quality, compatible, relationship, see ten secrets of compatible couples at: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-and-sensibility/201102/ten-secrets-compatible-couples )
6. Accusation, Escalation, Justification You accuse your mate of any fiendish thing that comes to mind. There are food-encrusted dishes in the sink. Your mate is inconsiderate. Your child did poorly on a test. Your mate is too lazy to help. These accusations can put your mate on the defensive. If your mate tries to rebut your accusation, escalate: "You never listen. You don't understand me." How do you stop this RIPS? Wait. Bite your tongue. Spontaneous accusations are likely to be more false than true. Moods change. Perspectives change. If when you get distance from an urge to accuse, and the matter seems silly, you've prevented a RIPS situation from escalating into a relationship crisis. Give yourself a deserved pat on the back.
Work at ending your part of RIPS and you put yourself in a healthy position to influence your mate to reciprocate. Substitute positive actions. If you prefer to see more of that person's better side, talk about what you like. Your mate doesn't have to take steps to do more of what you'd like. However, through clearly stating reasonable preferences, your mate may collaborate with you in preventing and mending RIPS and in doing more of what you both enjoy.
Dr. Bill Knaus