EACH relationship has its own set of boundaries, rules and agreed on expectations. There is no right or wrong. There are no normal roles for men and women. You make it up as you go. What one person will accept, another will reject.
This week’s question comes from Zola in Parktown,
Johannesburg: “What if my husband and I like to do different things to unwind? He watches television to de-stress and it winds me up. How can I tell him that I would like to be left alone, in silence, to get rid of my stressful day?
Is it bad for our relationship if we need different things away from each other when the only time we have together are TV nights?”
Opposites attract. It should come as no surprise that one of you is an introvert and the other extrovert. The extrovert wants to have interaction and stimulation and the introvert (you), wants to restore your energy when away from people. This does not mean that introverts make bad partners. The opposite is true, because the world needs more listeners, and you are probably the listener in your relationship.
Zola, I guess that your difficulty lies in figuring out how to tell your partner that watching television creates more stress for you. He probably wants you close to him when he watches television. Unless you tell him that you do not relax while you are doing it, he will never imagine that this is the case for you.
Most of us, me included, do not have a clue about what happens inside another human being. We are all aware of our own experiences and we imagine that it’s the same for our partners. Tell him what it is like for you when you are wound up and what it’s like when you have to bombard your thoughts with what’s on the telly.
As an introvert you might be out of your comfort zone when you share your feelings. Because you seldom speak up, look for that window of opportunity when he might hear you. Express yourself by making a statement and then wait for him to ask you more about it.
John Gray, author of Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, suggests that watching television to unwind is a male thing. He also confirms that when some women watch television it winds them up and although her man is now relaxed, a women needs to get things done to give herself permission to relax.
Unwinding is a matter of permission. Give yourself permission to be alone and then inform your partner, rather than ask his permission to do what you need.
If we act like we need approval, we show up as submissive. This way we open ourselves up to be held ransom. By putting your partner’s needs first, you set yourself up for resentment. The fact is that we really are all different, with different needs, and we don’t have to do everything together. Rather be together when you are both relaxed.
It is not healthy nor unhealthy for you to be alone to unwind when he needs a television to take a load off. What is unhealthy is ignoring your own needs and not taking responsibility to do what you need to do. With all things being equal, I suggest that you first accept that you need different things to be your best and then spend quality time together.
The highest virtue in a relationship is to trust and support each other to be yourselves inside your relationship. Be a fulfilled partner who is free within a relationship where you respect each other to be who you were born to be.
* Adelé Green is a transformation specialist coach and author of Can You See Me Naked: Grow in a conscious relationship. She provides answers here when posted on www.adele-green.com/askadele/ or you can contact her for coaching.
The Saturday Star