Have you ever observed a hostile couple and thought, Why do they stay together?
When I was a rookie therapist over a decade ago and encountering such partners, it was a case of the more you know, the less you understand. That scared me since a master's degree in social work meant I should have had a leg up on helping others to help themselves. The lesson learned, much later, is that people may say they want a harmonious relationship, but that's not always the case—especially when anger is the glue binding their dysfunctional union.
(Partnership is defined here as a romantic relationship, but it extends to other interpersonal duos—parents and children, bosses and employees, and others. I see the dynamic constantly, no matter the age, race, or socioeconomic level.)
Here's the thing: You have two choices when a friend, family member, or coworker complains about a relationship. You can continue to dispense advice (seemingly unheard) about how this person is lovable, smart and deserves better—or politely tell him or her that this topic is off-limits for you.
Sound harsh? I know. It's hard seeing someone you care about go through emotional pain. But it's also hard being mentally and physically exhausted after yet another 2 a.m. phone call. You deserve a good night's rest too.
So what's a happy medium between showing support, but also establishing boundaries? Working to understand the dynamics at hand. Here are 11 things I've learned about angry partnerships in the past 13 years:
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Copyright 2014 Linda Esposito, LCSW