The Middle-Aged Genius’s Guide to Almost Everything 38 – Why the Sour Look?
July 5, 2019
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Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What happens when you have a relationship context and a problem arises?
Rick Rosner: Let me start by saying, “I have insurance.” It has allowed my wife and I to go to couple’s counselling roughly once per month for the last 25+ years. It doesn’t mean that we’re always fighting and have horrible issues. It means that we can talk over what is going on in our lives. It shows the other person in the relationship that you’re willing to work on it.
If you learn how to operate within a couple’s counselling context, in a way that allows you to get your issues addressed and keeps it going with the other person, most people, I would say, don’t keep going with couple’s counselling because they don’t see that it offers any benefit to them. Or that they can’t operate within the context of couple’s counselling or don’t want to get called on their shit, whether consciously or unconsciously.
Regardless of the 25 years of couple’s counselling, my wife and I have been together since 1986. We got married in 1981. We’ve been living together for 4 years before that. So, it’s been a 30+ year deal. I would say an issue or idea that it is helpful to understand is that you can learn to drop something or learn to make an issue of something.
Going through that thought process whenever something happens with your partner that annoys you, or pisses you off, it gives you more control than you’d have otherwise. I’d say that factor in not letting something go is whether this kind of thing is going to continue to arise and continue to be an issue, where you don’t feel treated fairly or treated in a way that you’d like to be treated.
For instance, my wife has mostly positive qualities. But she issues around criticism. We have a dynamic where my wife will do something that pisses me off. She will throw away something of mine without asking if she can do it. It is a more common one. Then when I get mad, she judges me on how mad I get. She decides, rather than apologizing, that she is going to get mad at me for getting mad at her, which makes me even madder at her.
Sometimes, I get really mad and say, “If you just apologize to me in the first place, it would have helped with some of the escalation.” She is initially defensive. I am not saying, “I am not an asshole.” I am an asshole a lot. But that doesn’t mean that she is never an asshole. She’s initially defensive and then we have a blow-up, sometimes.
Then she’ll stew on it. Will, maybe, be apologetic 40 minutes or an hour later, I have some control whether I am going to call her on this, going to get pissed off about something being thrown away, or I’m just going to let it go. I hate slippery slope arguments. It is a bullshit thing in political debates.
“This thing is mine. If we let it go, it will lead to all these other things.” So, I don’t like the slippery slope, but I do know based on experience. If you don’t call certain things, those things don’t get addressed and continue to, at least, occasionally happen. I watched my late father-in-law try to deal with things.
My mother-in-law has been known to say lots of non-sense. Sometimes, you can let non-sense go. But I would see him get barraged with 3, 4, or 5 nonsensical comments, not accurate, in a row. He was a mild, nice guy. He would, after about 5 comments, sometimes, yell, “Anita!’
Rosner: This didn’t really do anything because she didn’t know why he was getting pissed off. I knew why he was getting pissed off. The way he addressed it didn’t do anything. Eventually, he got sick, old, and gave up, altogether. Based on it, based on other stuff, I know that, sometimes, you have to not just let stuff go.
It helps if you can discuss the dynamics of what is happening as they are happening. I do that with my wife. As I discuss it, we get madder and madder [Laughing] If you let everything go, and if you avoid causing any anger by standing up for yourself, then you’re going to eat more shit than is fair in a relationship.
You’ll be more resentful when little things come up because it’ll remind you of all the other stuff that you let go. Sometimes, if you let some shit not go, it allows you to let other stuff go. I should go into specifics. I will give one story from today. To make a medical treatment, I need to soak pills in water over night. Or as I get lazier, over two nights, I need the gelatin in the capsules to loosen up, to get the gunk in the capsule out to mix with the solution to make some other stuff.
I had one of these mixtures soaking on the kitchen counter. I come downstairs. The glass that did have the stuff soaking is now in the sink cleaned out. I’m like, “What happened here?” My wife says, “I got dog food in it.”
Rosner: “And I know you don’t like coming in contact with dog food. So, I’m helping you out by cleaning it out.” I’m like, “A), you should have asked me. B), how did you get dog food in this preparation way the hell away from where the dog food thing should be done?” At this point, she didn’t say, “Sorry.” She insisted that she was helping me out.
She thought I was being a jerk because I got mad when she was “helping” me out. At which point, I said, “No, cleaning out the cup, throwing out the pills, that soak out over night doesn’t help me out. You should’ve just said, ‘Sorry.’” At this point in the argument, she just says, “Sorry,” in a way it means: She is not really sorry; or if she is sorry, then, “Sorry,” I am such an asshole.
At which point, it rolls on for a little while. So, there’s your specific example.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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