Making Peace With Our Relationship Status

couple, seen fromthe back, walking dog
Image by Mabel Amber


Narrated by Marie T. Russell.

Video Version

 

Most all of us know the Rolling Stones' line, "You can't always get what you want." That's definitely true about our relationship status.

Regardless of whether we're on our own or partnered up, with or without children, we need to accept our situation and embrace it. Complaining won't change it. Neither will feeling hopeless or helpless. These crummy attitudes are guaranteed to keep us in the emotions of sadness, anger, and fear. Our best strategy is to find pleasure in our status and relish the moment, because as is abundantly clear, life is fragile and fleeting.

Going It Single

You know the adage “times are changing.” Well that couldn’t be truer when it comes to our living habits. According to a recent report from the U.S. Population Reference Bureau, 28% of adults,  in 2020, are single person households. In 1960 – 60 years ago -- only 13 percent were.

This is because more people are waiting until they are older to get married and there are more elderly people healthy enough to stay in their own homes. There are also more middle-aged folks making the choice to go solo. While one person households went from 13% in 1960 to 28% in 2020, married couples with children now only make up 19% of households, down from 44% in 1970. Non-family households went from 15% in 1960 to 35% in 2020.


 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

Downsides, and Upsides, to Living Alone

There are some downsides to living alone: it's easier to feel bored or alone, experience a lack of safety, and have no one to help. In addition it’s more expensive. However, people report preferring the freedom that this brings, especially when it comes to the level of cleanliness in common areas, the noise factor, privacy.

"The rise of living alone is the greatest social change of the last 50 years," said Eric Klinenberg, author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone. He speculates that, as well as the freedom and flexibility living alone brings, connecting online helps people not feel as lonely. They also seem to have more time to do enjoyable activities, such as visit with friends, volunteer, or pursue outside hobbies.

Of course it can be a bummer not having someone to share events with both during and afterwards. In addition, in terms of perceptions and convention, things haven’t changed so radically about being solo vs being coupled. Table for one brings with it a label of “He or she must be lonely.” And “I feel like a fish out of water going to a restaurant by myself.”

It will take a while for society’s mentality to shift, but as we look at those couples with their pregnant pauses and no eye contact or both people engrossed in their phones and other electronic devices over dinner, it’s best to relish and celebrate the many benefits of independence.

The moral of these shifting trends is that if you live alone, do your best to find healthy activities and other folks to support your lifestyle. If you don't like your status, find constructive and creative ways to change your living situation.

Pet Peeves… and What You Can Do about Them

As a marriage and family therapist for close to forty years, I’ve had the opportunity to hear the full range of complaints that couples have about their partners. I’m not talking about big issues, such as sex, money, or child rearing strategies. I’m talking about little things that can become the focus of what’s not working and lead to feelings of anger, isolation, separation, and disconnection.

Here’s a partial list:

My partner…

• doesn’t talk very much and doesn’t make his needs and views known. He has the fantasy I should be a mind reader and magically know what he’s thinking.

• talks in global generalities and is so dramatic that I can’t bring up anything, much less find solutions, without things getting out of hand.

• gives unsolicited advice and tells me what I should do, whether it’s about the kids, the way I drive, or how I dress. Her default setting is to try to control me, parent me, or lecture me.

• doesn't listen to what I say – he is distracted by television, computer, video game, football, a hobby, or reading or something.

• is a naysayer / wet blanket. She rarely gives me compliments, appreciations, or the benefit of the doubt.

• interrupts me when I’m talking.

• is perpetually late or the opposite – always wants to be early to any event.

• doesn't acknowledge my feelings when I share them but tunes me out.

• doesn't clean up after himself, help with housework, or appreciate how hard I work to maintain the home.

• doesn't back me up when I set boundaries and consequences with the children.

• doesn’t put the toilet seat down.

• drives like a grandmother or a race car driver.

• agrees to social events without consulting me.

How to Make Peace with Your Pet Peeves

Regardless of the complaint, as a psychotherapist and the author of Attitude Reconstruction, my strategy is usually the same. I help people understand that what they’re doing is not fueling feelings of connection.

There is no right or wrong. There are just differences. And if they want to feel love, sometimes they just need to accept some things and let go. And sometimes they need to speak up and try to get things to change.

Most often the pet peeve is not really a deal breaker. Sometimes we just have to give it a rest and adopt a genuine stance of acceptance. Yes, accept that our partner doesn’t put the toilet seat down, or call exactly when he or she promises.

Acceptance is most easily accomplished by repeating until you can truly “get it,” laugh, and let go of things needing to be your way. “My wife drives the way she does, not the way I think she should drive.” Or “My husband doesn’t put his dirty dishes in the sink and that’s the way it is.

True acceptance means that we don't make snarky comments or jokes about our differences. We put the complaint on the shelf.

However, if you know that you need to speak up, after accepting the way they are, it’s essential that you articulate your pet peeves by following the Attitude Reconstruction Four Communication Rules. Remember it’s hard to be open and receptive when we feel attacked.

Rule #1. -- It’s crucial that you talk about yourself rather than finger-pointing. Talk about how you feel, why, what you’d like.

Rule #2 -- You must stay specific so that the other person can understand exactly what is so difficult for you. Only address one topic at a time.

Rule #3 -- Focus on finding constructive win-win solutions, acknowledging what does work well.

Rule #4 -- Listen well, taking the time to truly hear and understand the other person’s perspective.

Make your talk a discussion, not an ultimatum, and compromise to find the best solution that best honors you both. Either tactic, surrender or loving speak up, will bring more intimacy and is preferable to fuming or striking out.

It takes some effort and boldness to make change but it's worth the effort. Consider buying a copy of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life for details about how to go about the rewarding task of acceptance, and how to communicate simply, lovingly, and effectively.

©2021 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
All Rights Reserved.

Book by this Author

Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.

book cover: Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life  by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.With practical tools and real-life examples, this book can help you stop settling for sadness, anger, and fear, and infuse your life with joy, love, and peace. Jude Bijou's comprehensive blueprint will teach you to: • cope with family members' unsolicited advice, cure indecision with your intuition, deal with fear by expressing it physically, create closeness by truly talking and listening, improve your social life, increase staff morale in just five minutes a day, handle sarcasm by visualizing it flying by, carve out more time for yourself by clarifying your priorities, ask for a raise and get it, stop fighting via two easy steps, cure kids' tantrums constructively. You can integrate Attitude Reconstruction into your daily routine, regardless of your spiritual path, cultural background, age, or education.

For more info and/or to order this book, click here.  Also available as a Kindle edition.

About the Author

photo of: Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT)Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life.

In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education.

Visit her website at AttitudeReconstruction.com/

More Articles By This Author

You May Also Like

AVAILABLE LANGUAGES

enafarzh-CNzh-TWnltlfifrdehiiditjakomsnofaptruessvtrvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

Marie T. Russell's Daily Inspiration

INNERSELF VOICES

What Does Our Authority Rest Upon?
Transitioning from Authoritarian "Outer" Authority to Spiritual "Inner" Authority
by Pierre Pradervand
For thousands of years, ever since mankind started settling in cities, we evolved in rigid,…
The Birthing of A New World Which Is Struggling to be Born
The Birthing of A New World Which Is Struggling to be Born
by Ervin Laszlo
Talk of fundamental change in the world around us is often met with skepticism. Change in society,…
Win the Battle In Your Head: Perspective Matters
Win the Battle In Your Head: Perspective Matters
by Peter Ruppert
We all experience positive and negative self-talk on a regular basis. Whether you realize it or…
Horoscope Current Week: April 19 - 25, 2021
Horoscope Current Week: April 19 - 25, 2021
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
If You’ve Contracted COVID: Healing and Moving Forward
If You’ve Contracted COVID: Healing and Moving Forward
by Stacee L. Reicherzer PhD
If you’ve contracted COVID, you not only had health problems that may have been life-threatening,…
Awakening to the Dream of the Earth and Loving the World
Awakening to the Dream of the Earth and Loving the World
by Bill Plotkin, Ph.D.
The most important question is not how to survive biodiversity loss, climate disruption, ecological…
4 Ways to Build Your Tolerance of Ambiguity—and Your Global Career 
4 Ways to Build Your Tolerance of Ambiguity—and Your Global Career
by Paula Caligiuri, Ph.D.
Even if your tolerance of ambiguity is lower, there are proven ways to build this important…
How To Use Family Stories To Build Young People's Resilience
How To Use Family Stories To Build Young People's Resilience
by Mary J. Cronin, Ph.D.
One approach that addresses the challenges families face today comes down to a familiar but often…

MOST READ

Is Your Bedroom Sacred?
Is Your Bedroom Sacred? Honoring Your Personal Sanctuary
by Jon Robertson
The bedroom is home to our prayers and dreams, our solitude and sexuality. In this inner sanctum,…
Age of Pisces to Age of Aquarius
Transitioning from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius
by Ray Grasse
The Age of Aries brought an awakening of the outwardly directed ego, but the more feminine Piscean…
4 Ways to Build Your Tolerance of Ambiguity—and Your Global Career 
4 Ways to Build Your Tolerance of Ambiguity—and Your Global Career
by Paula Caligiuri, Ph.D.
Even if your tolerance of ambiguity is lower, there are proven ways to build this important…
3 Ways Music Educators Can Help Students With Autism Develop Their Emotions
3 Ways Music Educators Can Help Students With Autism Develop Their Emotions
by Dawn R. Mitchell White, University of South Florida
Many children with autism struggle to find the words to express how they feel. But when it comes to…
Domestic Violence: Calls For Help Have Increased – But The Answers Haven't Gotten Any Easier
Domestic Violence: Calls For Help Have Increased – But The Answers Haven't Gotten Any Easier
by Tara N. Richards and Justin Nix, University of Nebraska Omaha
Experts expected the increase in domestic violence victims seeking help last year (2020). Victims…
At What Age Are People Usually Happiest? New Research Offers Surprising Clues
At What Age Are People Usually Happiest? New Research Offers Surprising Clues
by Clare Mehta, Emmanuel College
If you could be one age for the rest of your life, what would it be? Would you choose to be nine…
Viking DNA And The Pitfalls Of Genetic Ancestry Tests
Viking DNA and The Pitfalls of Genetic Ancestry Tests
by Anna Källén, Stockholm University and Daniel Strand, Uppsala University
According to recent estimates, over 26 million people from across the world have purchased a…
How Reactivating Traumatic Memories Could Reduce Their Impact
How Reactivating Traumatic Memories Could Reduce Their Impact
by Caitlin Clark, Texas AM
Researchers could be a step closer to finding a way to reduce the impact of traumatic memories,…

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.