Whenever I have cause to examine a dysfunctional couple, no matter what their age or the source of their dysfunction they share this common trait:
They are both at fault.
This might not seem very prescient at first but when you start to delve just a little deeper it can reveal uncomfortable truths. My most popular podcast to date is the episode where I explain how to marry an adult. The key point is that in order to attract an adult one must first possess similar levels of maturity.
There is an extremely high percentage of the general population that have never grown up. They are children in an adult’s body. The key to this is that this immaturity usually only manifests itself in their close personal relationships. In other words, in most other aspects of their lives they seem to be an adult. They manage to function in an adult world, they seem to be able to behave correctly at work or at your local sports club. It is only when you begin an intimate relationship with one of these people that the truth is revealed.
(Another indicator of someone who has not grown up is an inability to handle their personal finances.)
Very few people do the work on themselves that is required if you want to push past these stages of adult immaturity. They delude themselves into thinking that if they perform adult acts or ceremonies then they have done what is required. The typical ones are buying a house, getting married, and having children. The adult-child performs these actions and convinces himself that he has been bestowed with the coveted title of adulthood. In my late teens and early twenties I had several friends do this and a few of them actually announced to me in a proud way that they were now an adult.
At the time I thought that this was simply ridiculous. Even in my own level of deep immaturity I somehow knew that performing these acts did nothing to bestow maturity or adulthood. It might bestow adult responsibilities but it didn’t also provide the maturity required to manage them. (Another common statement is the one from parents when they declare that having kids teaches you so much. This is very true, if indeed you had serious gaps in your own knowledge.)
In a way these people did me a favor. They caused me to take a completely different path. My journey that I detail in my first book was primarily an effort to become an adult but without doing it by proxy. For a very long time I was against the idea of marriage, not because it is a bad institution but because it does nothing to save people from themselves. When I had the good fortune to meet an adult and marry her I was by that stage an adult myself.
Which was the result of a lot of hard work. My post yesterday on the subject of getting your own house in order took something for granted. It assumes that the reader is also an adult or is on the path to becoming an adult. Regular commenter Allan made a prescient point:
I had the exact opposite reaction to the guy talking about his wife and moving the car. He came across as a serious drama queen to me. For pity sake, she makes an unreasonable request, BFD, unless it’s a pattern. It should be handled quickly, and straight up.
This was in response to a comment from Rollo’s blog that I examined in my post. The commenter in this instance is also on a journey to adulthood but he is juggling that while he is also attempting to work out how to properly handle women, in his case one woman in particular. As he said in the comments, baby steps.
Which brings us back to the theme of this post. It’s a two way street, or it takes two to tango. In other words, if you are in a dysfunctional relationship it indicates that on a certain level you are dysfunctional yourself. On the example of the episode in the car, an adult is just not going to put up with the behavior of either party in that example.
I know a man in his forties who is very good looking and successful and who is able to attract tier one adult women on a semi-regular basis, (I say semi-regular because there aren’t that many of them out there). But his relationships always end quickly. What he doesn’t understand is that it’s not them, it’s him. He is a child in an adult’s body and these quality women are just not going to put up with it. I have also known guys who were mature adults at the age of seventeen. Wise beyond their years. There is no formula to this. In my own case it took me until my mid-thirties to finally grow up.
If you are having problems in these areas you need to ruthlessly examine your own behavior and circumstances. Don’t think of this as something negative to be avoided. Think of it as an opportunity to start making some decent progression in life. Remember; short term pain equates to long term gain and the opposite is just as true. This stuff is never static. I am constantly seeking progress through various aspects of my own life. You also never arrive with this stuff. You keep on doing it until you die.