Friends can be the absolute worst. Yes, they can be destructive, selfish, overbearing and isolating. No, I have not been abducted and replaced with another blogger.
Maid of Dishonor and Worst Man
They were your best friends when you got married. They fixed E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. They knew just how to tweak you, so you and Mate would not break up before they pulled off the world’s most fabulous wedding. Today, not so much.
Every time you gripe about Mate’s dirty tools in the laundry room, she is right there to tell you how her ex used to do the same thing. When you go off like a rocket because there are pantyhose on your shower rod, he recites the last in the saga of the bathroom at his newest ex-girlfriend’s house.
It feels like support at the time.
The comforting support turns out to be a reticulated python wrapped around the length of your marriage. It can strangle the life out of anything.
There is a fine line between commiserating and exacerbating. Before the wedding, you commiserated. After, your friends are exacerbating what can become the most isolating part of your marriage: Communication aimed at the wrong target.
When you are constantly speaking of Mate (even in negativity), it shows you still have interest. [Let me stand really still while that sentence sinks in…about Mate and all your exes.]
If you truly did not care about what Mate thought, felt and did, Mate would never once cross your mind. And when Mate did something to (annoy, impress, elate) you, it would go unnoticed as unimportant: The same way total strangers fail to get your attention.
Friends can modify a single point score from Mate into a triple (darts, anyone?). This is a plus when Mate does something BFF’s mate is not. But when Mate is doing something completely alien (or worse), BFF can triple how bad you feel about Mate’s behavior.
Off the Board
You missed the entire dartboard when you took this to BFF (or worse, Quaint) instead of Mate. BFF does not have the ability to speak on Mate’s behalf, even if BFF is Mate’s BFF. Go pull your darts, and come back to the line.
Standing on the line with the darts in your hand, look at the board. You know what you need to hit to win. Aiming is a solitary experience. Lonely, isn’t it?
You are looking at the target, but you know the draft (what other people say), the fletching (experience) and the straightness of the shaft (strength of marriage) all directly affect the path of flight.
Before you toss that dart, turn off the fan. Fine, you got BFF’s take on how atrocious Mate is in (concert, comparison) to any other random mate. Stop letting BFF blow you into loneliness.
Misery Loves Company
Sure, it does. Do you really want to be isolated and lonely with Mate sitting across the dinner table? As long as you are discussing these things chipping away at your marriage with someone else, you are adding to the misery. You are beginning to resent Mate for not seeing how much ____________ drives you to the brink of sanity.
Stop keeping miserable company. No, this does not mean you have to trade in BFF for a new Quaint. It does mean you have to grab loneliness and toss it off the board.
What you want is Mate to return to the person you married. Fact is, Mate is the person you married. You just did not realize how you would react to situations in your life. Are some of these tiny (or huge) separations in your fletches?
- Hours spent at work
- Night out with (girls/boys)
- Mate’s BFF
- Hours spend on hobbies (alone, with others…not you)
- Loss of job
- Idiosyncratic habits at home
- Abandonment of habits
- Substance use/abuse
Your marriage will not hit the bull’s eye without easing the feathers or replacing them.
Smoothing the Feathers
Just like the ruffled feathers on an angry bird, you can smooth them. Communicate. Sit down away from the problem and talk. Do not wait to talk until Mate has (had a drink, yelled at the children, just come home from a night out). Talk about it (over breakfast, at sandwich night, at therapy).
Not all feathers can be eased back into their original state, but most can be smoothed to the point you can learn to hit the target despite their altered state. It means a little different finesse than when the dart was new, but the flight pattern is novel to watch, and the success of a bull’s eye is sweet.
Unfortunately, there does come a place where the darts must be replaced. Before you toss your darts in the bin, be certain you have done all you can to ease the fletches. You may well be amazed how much Mate may know about feathers when you take the time to ask.
How have you smoothed feathers? Have you had to wait for Mate to smooth feathers you separated? How willing are you to kick loneliness off the board?
© Red Dwyer 2012
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