I never married, and I will never understand the idea of divorce, it’s like a loop in my head. Why would you ever consider to divorce… since you are married??! Isn’t marriage a commitment? Then, well, it’s exactly it : when you meet a problem, some difficulties, betrayal, whatever, you’re supposed to work on it, right? Because, well, you’re MARRIED! So yes, I realize that I’m much more solemn than I should be. Or not : I never married, after all. Voilà!
Tool : what is a commitment? As it IS a commitment, what can it bring to you? What if you feel prisoner, in a cage? What if a commitment was REALLY a commitment, which means that you can’t even have the possibility to consider there’s a way to change or cut it? Can this happen in friendship, like the “Best Friends Forever” you hear in teens’ mouths? What if it was a real commitment?
“I’m taking a picture of you. Please smile. Nooo not like that! A big, natural, spontaneous smile”.
Everyone understands this example, right? When someone asks you to act… spontaneously, you’re stuck in an awkward grey nauseous mood. It’s called “the be spontaneous paradox”. It can happen anywhere, in a couple, a family, at work : one person requests something that can only be given spontaneously – love, interest, appreciation, desire, tenderness… You’re now stuck in a Double Bind.
Here’s a good dialog from the 2006 movie “The Break-Up” :
I busted my ass all day cleaning this house and then cooking that meal! And I worked today. It would be nice if you said “thank you” and helped me with the dishes.
Fine. I’ll help you do the damn dishes.
That’s not what I want.
You just said that you want me to help you do the dishes!
I want you to want to do the dishes.
Why would I want to do dishes?
Why? See, that’s my whole point.
Let me see if I’m following this, okay? Are you telling me that you’re upset
because I don’t have a strong desire to clean dishes?
No. I’m upset because you don’t have a strong desire to offer to do the dishes.
I just did.
After I asked you!
Imagine a club, a private club with big mellow armchairs. The boss enters the room and solemnly criticize the atmosphere, and then asks everyone to be a little more gay and happy, “a few more laughs would be perfect!” – Imagine the disaster!… (I saw this one day from a web forum administrator. I tried to explain him, but without any effect).
Tool 1 : Learn how to detect when someone asks you to “act spontaneously”. And beware of this when it’s meant but unsaid, perversely implicit : it’s worse ! Your answer can be multiple.
If you try, you just have to put a mask. But it’s not you, it’s theater. Maybe you will have to wear it!
You can just say no, of course.
Go meta-communication : talk about this, explain the paradox and that you will not stay stuck into this.
Tool 2 : Do you do it? Putting other people into these “Please change and act spontaneously like this and like that“? If you did, can you detect the desperate unease and awkwardness you put in the other’s brain? Can you see the mask?
I will always remember this example I got from Watzlawick, a father punishing his kid telling him “Go to your room, and come back when you smile”. Horror!
You probably heard about Nonviolent Communication. It’s very useful and, if I was the president, I would make a law to teach this at school ! You’ll find dozens of books about this, and you should buy one.
Jacques Salomé is a French author (I recommend “If Only I’d Listen to Myself”, it’s his best book and it’s probably the only one translated in English) who says that when we argue (with colleagues, with your parents, with your wife), you bomb the other with definitions :
You are so lazy!
You never loved me!
You are like your mother!
You always forget your socks everywhere in the house!
You are such a liar!
You You You!
See? In an argument, we say “You”, we define each other. Of course, this is mean, violent, useless and stupid. It’s “sticking words to a person”, so what?
Salomé call it “La Communication Klaxon” (because in French You is Tu, tututuuuu, like a horn). Stop youyouing the other ones. Use this :
It’s simple. Say “I” instead of “You”. Talk about your own feelings, and tell why you’re hurt, learn how to argue with elegance, be constructive and helpful. It’s a matter of kindness and benevolence. That’s all. And that’s a good key!
In the Abécédaire, Gilles Deleuze explains that one never desire something of someone, but rather desire an aggregate : in desiring an object, a dress for example, the desire is not for the object, but for the whole context… So there is no desire, says Deleuze, that does not flow into an assemblage, “aggregate of skirt, of the sunray, of a street, of a woman, of a vista, of a color, constructing a region.”
I like to keep this idea in mind when love in involved. Someone loves you, but in fact this person loves the project around your story. It’s a bit strange to realise that someone does not love you “as you are”, but loves all the changes and the life you could bring to him or her… Or the money and security and the house coming with the horse, too ! Pure love has its ways…
Think about it when she/he doesn’t love you anymore. The boredom maybe came because the aggregate around you isn’t very funny or doable anymore, that’s all…
I one day read an interview of Claude Chabrol, a well known director of the French Nouvelle Vague, saying that to keep his wife in a good mood he had to “invent projects”. As he had no time, had his own projects (to work on his movies), he said that he had to move to another house every seven years. Voilà !
To pick up your marbles and go : Reprendre ses billes.
Battre de l’aile (literaly : shaking a wing) = To be on the skids (or on your “last leg”, which one is better, dear ?).
If you feel that your lover is picking up his or her marbles, your couple is on the skids. Act quickly and invent a project. It can work. A big travel, a new home, whatever. Aggregate !
(If it pleases you, forget the project and try to be a little mean-and-evil : it could help this person to hate you and go away for good. After all, you maybe want your marbles back too, hé hé !)