The Middle-Aged Genius’s Guide to Almost Everything 7 – Cutting Your Losses in an Argument
March 15, 2018
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Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What about cutting your losses with regards to something small in a relationship, like an argument? You argue over something being moved, like a piece of furniture or a new color of paint in the living room.
Rick Rosner: It depends on what that kind of conflict indicates. Generally, if it’s over something trivial, it’s better just to acquiesce, but if it’s part of a trend of hostility and questioning you on everything then you have to look at the entire relationship and see if it’s decaying; if you’re being treated with increasing contempt, or if it’s something that can be addressed through counseling through a neutral referee.
But generally it’s better to see if you can train yourself to overlook small conflicts, but you have to look at the conflict and see if it’s indicative of something deeper. But if you want to move on to general principles of whether to stay in a relationship or not…
Jacobsen: Let’s say things escalate from a series of small things that become medium things and some of them big issues, what do you do then in terms of cutting your losses in a relationship in terms of making that distinction whether they should leave or stay?
Rosner: I dislike slippery slope arguments, in politics at least. But in relationships, you can often see clear escalation of anger, hostility, and frustration. And if your behavior is staying the same or even you’ve even tried to address some of these issues, then you have to see if the relationship is getting ready to go away.
Often issues aren’t really about what they’re about. If somebody’s picking fights with you about everything, then there’s probably something else that is bugging them about you or they’re getting just more annoyed at the relationship in general or they’re enjoying increased power within a relationship.
In general principle of whether a relationship’s worth it is: does it make you happier and does it make your life easier? You have to ask yourself can you manage your own behavior within a relationship that’s as close to traditional as possible. In the relationships that society is set up for, generate less friction.
Now, not everybody is set up for ‘the traditional relationship’ of the past 300 years, which is a man and a woman being monogamous, maybe dwelling, maybe having kids; there’s more and more room for traditional relationships for non-heterosexual couples and for couples who have some flexibility in terms of hooking up with other people or asexual.
I mean there’s more room for variations than there ever has been before and this will continue to increase, but I would guess you don’t want to have a thing that’s weird or not weird – but it’s unusual in all dimensions.
The more overall unusualness of the relationship, the more time it will take to tend to figure out things about and the more friction will be generated, the more pain in the ass it’ll be. And if both parties are earnest and willing to do the extra work that’ll be required, then things can work but anyway good.
You want to evaluate your suitability; you and your partner’s suitability for a relationship and if you have a relationship that works pretty well and is reasonably stable, then that is your bird in the hand.
Then you look at the overall satisfaction levels and then you see whether any individual, any specific gripes can be either not ignored or tolerated through work. My wife and I have been in couples counseling now for over 20 years.
Not every week, the sessions are not screaming match as we go every three four or five weeks and it’s a good way to check up on. We discuss issues in a refereed environment to check up on how things are overall. But mostly for each partner to show the other that they’re willing to put in some work on the relationship.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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