Saturday, April 14, 2007

Couplehood is for Dupes

MArt and I are going through a very rocky period right now. Very rocky. I broke up with him the day before Zoidberg died, but we made up 4 hours later. I was just so miserable by then that another month, week, day! with him would have been unthinkable. I still think about whether I should have used up another box of Kleenex and stuck by my decision. He was crying, I was crying, then our chameleon died - it was all simply too much to bear.

These last few weeks feel like deja vu. I'm miserable again. Well, not entirely, but I've offered to take myself off his hands again. He is optimistic that we can work it through and regularly calls my bluff. I have very little faith and even less patience. When I discuss this with friends, I'm categorically stereotyped as the "man" in the relationship: stubborn, distant, defensive, and argumentative. MArt, on the other hand, is a (self-described) nag, control freak, domestic Adonis, and expects me to "invest more in our relationship."

So his nagging leaves me cold which makes me more distant and eager to get away from his controlling tendencies that I begrudgingly defend myself against even though he'd like me to be more considerate and affectionate because their absence is fuelling his insecurities ... in the house that Jack built.

And now that I have a job (to further supplement my generous allowance ... and shoe habit), the role reversal is nearly complete.

I know MArt tries his best to please me. At the same time, I tend to also be the target of disappointment. "Stop ripping your lips!" he'd scold. "Don't use that tone!" There are other annoyances and, to me, they all seem rather innocuous. From my point of view, I think that if he says I'm perfect, he should accept my minor flaws. From his point of view, if they are so minor, why can't I correct them?

He calls me a flirt and accuses me of ignoring him when we're out in groups. I say I'm being friendly and we should be able to talk to other people in public. My mother would say this is a problem of perspectives and she would be right. For example, I use the word "argument" synonymously with "reasoning". MArt uses "argument" the same way as "dispute". I use the conjunction "and" to affix a similar or related thought to my former statement. He uses the word "but" to do so. This completely throws me off as I then interpret his assertions to be contradictory and lack discursive progress. These are just some of our linguistic differences that add fuel to the proverbial fire. Furthermore, he has a scientific mind so he's more vested in absolutes than I am, whereas I come from the school of rhetoric where truth is the result of persuasion. But we're both too bullheaded to ever be the first one to concede.

I blame this on our birth order. (Seriously.)

I'm the oldest child and MArt's the youngest child. When he's manipulative, I see through it. When I (try to) intimidate, he makes more of an effort to not budge. This dynamic locks us into a predictable pattern.

Dear Ann,

Is this relationship headed for Doomsville or will these wrinkles eventually smooth themselves out?

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