Walking into the bedroom, Lisa says “Jeff, did you know the light bulb is burned out in the bathroom?”
Jeff raises his eyebrows and says, “Oh?” Inside his head, Jeff says, “There’s no way I’m going to replace that light bulb. If she wants me to replace it, she’s going to have to ask.”
Two days later Lisa says to Jeff, “I can’t even see to put on my makeup in the bathroom.”
Jeff gives Lisa the old “um-hmmm” response and reaffirms to himself that he’s not going to replace the light bulb until she asks.
Another week goes by and Jeff notices that Lisa is straining to see herself in the mirror with the light that’s coming from the hall. At that moment he feels some compassion for Lisa, and later that day, when she is nowhere around, he replaces the light bulb.
The saga continues when Jeff, decides not to tell Lisa that he replaced the light bulb and Lisa continues to put her makeup on using the light from the hall.
A few days later, Lisa walks briskly into the kitchen and yells indignantly, “When are you going to replace that light bulb?”
Jeff looks up from his newspaper, leans back in his chair and says, “Why, I replaced it last week. Didn’t you know?”
Lisa caught off guard, feels confused and indignant. Jeff, on the other hand, feels triumphant.
Lisa takes a deep breath and is ready to fight. Jeff becomes defensive, and for the next 10 minutes they engage in a heated exchange of words followed by another half-hour rehashing who did what when.
Usually in situations like this, a couple will repeat the scenario. The topic will be different, but the scene will play the same way.
The reason is because deep down the partners are afraid of closeness. However, because they are human, and each of them has a need to be close and emotionally recognized by the other, they quarrel.
Their quarreling allows them to engage each other emotionally, while at the same time avoid closeness.
If this scenario sounds too close to home, examine your motives when arguing, and vow to make some changes in your relationship.
Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World,” “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide,” and “Thin Becomes You” at Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com.
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