Emotion, the Dark Mistress

Marriages can Last!
Marriages can Last!

Emotion, the Dark Mistress

By Tony DeLorger © 2011

We’re a funny mob! We have intellect, education and have learned certain life skills to be successful and to survive our environment. But still we treat relationships with an ad hoc attitude, throwing ourselves into circumstances with reckless abandon. Perhaps we are talking about the difference between academic intelligence and emotional intelligence. Regardless of how smart we are, emotionally many of us are wanting . One would think that experience would teach us something about relationships, just like we learn our job or how to maintain a house for example. Unfortunately many of us repeat the same mistakes in relationships, having learned little about the opposite sex and in fact why we do what we do.

Having looked at this problem it quickly became obvious that how we learn emotionally is different from learning any physical or academic task. Emotionally we have relationship experiences, but if we don’t spend the time to understand what works and what doesn’t and why, then we are bound to repeat the same behaviours and therefore repeat the mistakes.

Many negative experiences, especially those that have created a personal pain, are difficult to look at or analyse. Given time, when the rawness of a failed relationship fades, it is pertinent to apply some energy to explore the dynamics of this failure and exactly how it came about. This of course can be painful and requires some personal growth. But without it our emotional intelligence will remain in infancy.

Emotionally we have different temperaments. Some people are naturally guarded and controlled, while others are open and sharing. Because of experience and age, many of us become guarded and suspicious from an emotional perspective, and ultimately take time to feel comfortable with people and to open up. This is to be expected but necessary in understanding our own vulnerability and our readiness to share with others.

In looking at this lack of attention where relationships are concerned, I had a conversation with a friend who was insightful and enlightening on the subject. She was pondering how her and her sister’s marriages had failed and yet her two cousin’s marriages had endured for thirty-odd years. They both came from traditional Italian families having immigrated to Australia, all went to the best schools yet there was this disparity.

One night over dinner she asked her cousins what was the secret of their marriage successes. The answer was surprising. Both couples on first meeting their partners, sat down and listed out their plans for their future. Wow, I thought. Before they even went out, they were putting their goals on paper. If their joint plans didn’t fit together, that was the end of it. But each couple found common ground and agreed to a plan, which they all stuck to and both couples have been happily married since.

They saw an opportunity to treat the prospective partnerships like a business proposition and pragmatically listed all their hopes and dreams. When that was agreed on, they each pursued their relationships knowing if they worked out, a plan was set in place for their lives together. Each couple did this matter of factly and thought nothing of it. To my friend, and to me it was a revelation; a simple idea that made so much sense. The funny thing is, it is an old idea, forgotten on the whole by current generations.

Instead of jumping into bed with someone and winging it as a relationship, perhaps it’s time we looked closer at our real goals and decide if they suit our prospective partners. I found this approach worth repeating, and considering we pay little attention to the dynamics of many of our relationships, it's advice worth thinking about.

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