Familiarity Breeds Contempt! Are You Being "Overly Familiar"? Or Is Someone Too Familiar with You?
In Days of Old, even going to Death required Dignity and Formalized Speech as with Marie Antoinette
"Familiarity Breeds Contempt"
This well known phrase gives rise to contemplation.
Do we truly become contemptuous of each other just
because we have been exposed for a long time
to a given set of characteristics, habits and patterns?
Long marriages put a lie to that basic idea.
There are plenty of long lasting relationships
in which contemptuous feelings do not rule the day.
Treat Your Lover like a Stranger
In the awesome first experience of starting to live with someone, the first things that struck me were how “personal” things got right away.
It’s not just discovering “morning bad breath” or using the toilet within earshot, eyeshot, nose shot or flush shot – it was for me a recognition that a Lover Etiquette could be highly recommended for couples. This is something that millions have come to recognize, and what I am going to say is not revolutionary. However, I think that just talking about it can help some, actually inspire others, or cause many of you conscientious types to just make some “margin notes”.
We are Polite with Strangers
In contemplating the ideas for this article, I was immediately struck with the idea that our modern 400 year western experience in the U.S. may not be the most appropriate historic sampler for “politeness with strangers”. Look at our road rage, screaming rioters, instant combat for parking places – need I go on.
Leaving sarcasm behind, there is a restraint, a politeness, a comportment that we carry on in life which assures that restaurants, churches, workplaces and street corners will be the places of pleasant conversation and respect for another.
Traditional and Cultural Standards
We have all seen movies in which cultural standards have requirements of hosts to treat strangers in special ways: offerings of food, surrendering garments, providing a place to sleep and other treatments all have been differing standards in diverse places.
In ancient, mythic and historical treatment of strangers through the eyes of different cultures gives us a taste of how the way we treat strangers has changed.
Today, if we're wise, we don't open our bolted doors to strangers without proof of identity, we fear hitch-hikers, and we expect visitors to bring a dish or bottle of wine when they come for a visit.
Hospitality Was Important in Early Christianity
There is the famous scripture in Hebrews that speaks of hospitality and its importance. Avoiding the theological discussion over whether Paul was actually referring to “angels” or “messengers”, it is still important to understand that hospitality was important in early Christianity.
However, there are certain standards of what one might call “nice manners”, “being polite” or having “good etiquette” which can serve to keep a relationship on a higher level so that respect, kindness, patience and compassion can more easily stay, remain with or grow new elements of “nice treatment”.
This is sensitive territory because it is natural to conclude that two people who have together concluded that they are going to “talk a certain way” is their choice and freedom of that kind within a relationship is “sacred” territory. Now that’s a funny word: “sacred”. Sometimes one more classically, religiously or culturally trained person keeps their conversation at a certain level. The other partner may not even have the sensibilities to amend their language, or even think it’s a problem. They just talk the way they talk.
Personal Effrontery and Disrespect
Is this what you call “love”?
The reason little things mean a lot, and politeness, and oral hygiene and bodily cleanliness and basic care for your health are important is because all of these things should be arising from the fact that you live with another human being who you actually say you love.
It is the lack of these things, and the presence of offensive behavior, “back of the hand” offenses, coarse disrespect, “little acts of offense” (slapping, pushing). This leads one to the entirely separate topic of DOMESTIC ABUSE, in which abusers are famous for saying through violent tears: “I love you, that’s why I am smashing your face in.” This again is not the point of this article. However, I must declare that it is the “permission” that the abusive partner gives to themselves in physical, psychological and emotional acts that are the precursors to fuller blown manifestations that make headlines. The point of this article may be exactly here. It is not that all impoliteness, coarseness and brutishness lead to horrible acts, but they do surely LEAD AWAY FROM HOSPITABLE LOVE AND HARMONY.
We Owe to Each Other the Best Daily Disposition that we can Individually Manage
The radio commentator and Jewish Scholar, Dennis Prager is known to say that we owe each other the best happiest person we can be. I heartily endorse him and agree. My amendment might be that because days differ from sunrise to sunset, and we face diverse hardships: disease, heartache, car crashes, hospitalization, job loss and sudden depression – I would say that with regard to getting along with your loved one, that they deserve your Best Daily Disposition that We Can Individually Manage.
A Last Point
The first thing that we start to learn with the habitual daily repetition of “Getting Along” is that if you want to start keeping score on your private little “get back” list, after awhile you will find that you both have some damning reasons to withhold love. The Propriety involved in maintaining a respect filled relationship is NOT to pounce when your partner is down. Just like you would let a stranger through a busy department store door, in the morning, after you arise and do your morning ablutions, the almost perfect thing you can do is to simply forget about yesterday’s problem. A fresh flood of compassionate forgiveness has a way of sprouting new blossoms in the Garden of Your Loving Relationship and Partnership.
"Strangers Are The Bogeymen"
Rules of Etiquette require us to make our guests feel at home,
But not to make people we don't know our Guests. Strangers are the Bogey-men we
warn our children about.
This hasn't always been the case.
Before the advent of Coins, Credit Cards, Motel 6, and McDonalds,
Hospitality to Strangers Saved Lives.
© 2012 Christofer French