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'Mail' Newspaper Articles

Focal Point (for publishing—30/06/09)

Destructive Defence in Relationships

Last week I called on a friend in business and after the usual banter I said, “Ok, I’ve got to write an article for next week’s paper, what should I write on?” With a flippant reply he said, pointing out the window to the other side of the road, “On all those annoying signs and balloons and stuff people tie to road posts announcing birthdays etc”. Then he owned up to the fact that he might just be growing into a grumpy old man. I said, “Well, that’s a good start for a topic because it leads right into the question of where the line is between just being grumpy (if there is a case for being so) and a vexatious fight for our own rights. It so happens that at the moment I have almost a full book in counselling of relationship difficulty cases. Many times all that is left are the adversaries fighting to the ‘death’ of the relationship for a ‘right’, which is somehow deemed to be worth losing each other for. I have no doubt that in the ‘honeymoon stage’ of the relationship, both of them didn’t even notice that socks smelled, ‘wind’ was being passed, and in essence, the other could do no wrong. What happened? Before we look at that, we have seen recently in parliament the leaders of both parties locked into an adversarial war, each trying to claim a scalp, and what over? An email? Yes I know it’s more the just an email and I know the arguments put up, but in politics, backing down is seen to be almost an impossible thing to do. Now our ‘Kevin’ and our ‘Malcolm’ are not married to each other and don’t have to take the ‘stuff’ home, but we in relationships do and at times we even ‘sleep with the enemy’. So, for a way forward? I think that the first thing to look for is what we are actually defending with our ‘sword’. Sometimes upon close examination it’s not worth the intensity of the defence. For instance, we may have had a critical comment made to us from our partner and we become defensive. It might have been that we forgot to put out the garbage last night or forgot to get the bread while out shopping. The fight is not about whether we are able to put out the garbage or not, it is more about things like; I defend because I think he/she is attacking my character, my ability to remember and my reliability. I start to think that if I do it much more he/she will start comparing me with other partners and might withdraw intimacy and then we start with grandiose thoughts like, ‘he/she might even leave me’. See where this can go? Is it worth the fight? What’s more, we may have lost previous relationships because we let small things like this get out of hand and we are frightened it will happen again. Knowing the pain of past lost relationships, we might even take the upper hand and sabotage it before it hurts us. After all, don’t ‘they’ say that attack is the best form of defence? In the light of all this ‘extrapolation’, it looks like there is a lot to fight for. Let me suggest however, that you don’t get hooked early over small things that have nothing to do with your significance and integrity. Just put the garbage out, go back for the bread, or simply say, “Sorry honey, I stuffed that up but I will work on getting it right next time”. If you currently have swords locked in battle and can’t find a way to disengage, come in for a chat. We have ways of getting them unlocked.

Graeme Dawson B.Min. Grad.Dip.CC.
Co-ordinator Focal Point & Valley Care Counsellor & Manager
Valley Care Counselling Service 0409 517273.


Focal Point Yarra Valley 2009