June 23, 2006
June 23, 2006

Learn From TV Shows

The TV show, Greg and Dharma’s two opposing family lifestyles clash as the extended family and the couple try to compromise into a harmonious whole. I often use this soap opera to illustrate the fact that America’s melting pot causes lumps in the digestion of the soup it creates. Often disciplining children, affection, financial attitudes on saving and spending money and so forth causes rifts that appear unrepairable because each party believes that their opinion is correct. Even when or especially when a partner is aware that it originated with the family of origin, anger and resentment flourish as the behavior is perceived as an immovable object and therefore attack appears necessary to remove it. Changing ones orientation towards life or even altering it may be seen as unacceptable. Objectifying the problem is always a much better solution than viewing it emotionally. Of course the best path is to avoid such inherent impossible situations by finding another partner before the relationship becomes a commitment. However, once it is a given, prioritizing the options according to the strength of attachment to the attitude may help. Using relationship information gleaned from libraries or the internet can be a source to help resolve differences. Seek answers to the best solution for the relationship, for disciplining children, for budgeting money or whatever else may be disturbing the peace between the couple. Setting limits for oneself as to what each can tolerate and seeking alternative behaviors that are acceptable may dissipate the tension.

Everyone Loves Raymond is another show which comically identifies the gender differences. Raymond does not understand why his wife is upset, but he stops, thinks and adjusts his actions and verbalizations to a formula he does not understand, but which he knows works. I will suggest that my clients note that Raymond does “stop”, “think”, and adjust his actions or verbalizations to fit the situation. Men need to stop trying to control life by giving solutions and just comment on the emotion that the female is exhibiting. Watch Ray. He does a fantastic job of altering his male reactions to more favorable communications with Debra.

However, Debra must be very specific in her expressions of what she wants and needs from Raymond. Women need to think through what angers them and decide what clear, positive message they can impart so that men are not confused by the pathos which causes men to want to flee. Yes women also need to “stop”, “think” and then redirect the conversation to a more objective avenue that allows a male to feel more comfortable.

No matter how many times the public is informed that gender differences are internal, ( ie. brain and hormonal) as well as external, neither sex computes that information into their daily routines. Including comic TV shows such as the ones above can be viewed humorously as well as educationally. Discuss the show’s tensions instead of your own and perhaps you will solve your own couple problem without sentimentality.