Thoughts by Richard Bleil
A friend of mine suggested to me that his ex-wife’s destructive cycle is about two years. She had just married, and basically was saying that he believes she will divorce in about two years. I’ve heard of this concept before, where people will basically enter relationships and exit again in a regular and predictable time period.
I guess it’s akin to the proverbial seven-year itch in married couples. It’s been believed that if a couple can make it past the seventh year, they will be fine. I don’t know where this concept comes from, but it’s akin to the cycle of which I am speaking. Today, another friend suggested that this actually means that in a marriage, every seven years is a period of disinterest and has a high risk of infidelity.
I’ve known several people who seem to have such a cycle. I’m sure that I do, except that I’ve never really been in a relationship long enough to really see if I have such a cycle. It’s possible, I guess, that my “cycle” period is less than a year. But if a person knows, recognizes and acknowledges their cycle, it should be a great tool in breaking the pattern. If you know that your period is indeed two years, for example, then it means that in two years you can anticipate feeling trapped, or lost, or some form of malaise or angst. If you know it’s coming, you can brace for it and fight your way through it. Breaking the cycle once won’t necessarily eliminate it, but defeating it once provides proof that you are stronger than your cycle.
Another issue is one of self-destruction. This might be related to the destructive cycle, but more than once I’ve had a girlfriend walk out of a relationship with me saying that I’m “too good”. I’ve never understood this, but basically, they said that I was such a good boyfriend that there “must” be something wrong. Maybe they were just being nice and making up excuses for dumping me, but they would say that they wanted to stop seeing me before my “flaw”, whatever it was, ruined it.
You know, even writing this it sounds like nonsense. If you’re laughing at me right now, that’s really okay. I don’t believe it either. But what isn’t nonsense is that there are people who are uncomfortable when things are going well. Basically, some people sadly have lived through so much tragedy and so many bad things that when things are going well, they become stressed because, clearly, something will go wrong eventually. They live in fear of the good time ending, and sometimes will self-sabotage relationships so they can hurt their partner before their partner can hurt them. This is a real thing, and difficult to get through.
I’ve written about the Tao te Ching in the past. In this book, it discusses the Yin and the Yang of life, the symbol of which many people are familiar often without really understanding what the symbol represents. The concept is that life is in a cycle. Sometimes the Yin is dominant, and sometimes Yang, one always yielding to the other. In so doing, the Lao Tzu suggested that in recognizing the cycle of life, we should always be aware of the upcoming change. When I’m depressed, this concept reminds me that the periods when I’m down won’t last forever, and they will improve. At the same time, when I’m having a good day, it tempers me to know that I will again experience a period of depression, which helps me to prepare for it and allows me to brace for it.
By recognizing that we have a period, and a tendency of self-destruction in the good times, it helps us to deal with these periods and continue to move forward through dangerous times when we would otherwise give up on relationships and partners.
It has always fascinated me that hindsight always seems brighter than today. When I think back to my marriage, I tend to remember the god times, the raunchy sex, the trips, the special meals. I distinctly remember when she would sit on my lap and let me hold her as we watched movies, but the reality is that she also punched holes in the wall, ignored me for weeks at a time and was more interested in her bottles towards the end than our marriage. There’s an old trick of making “pro-con” lists. Maybe that’s another way to get through those cycles and self-sabotage habits. It might be worth thinking about what you will remember about the relationship when it’s over, rather than focusing on the stresses and issues of the day. I think in my case the “con” side might have still overwhelmed the “pro” side, but I also think about past relationships, and I can’t help but wonder if I didn’t think about what I would remember might have made things turn out differently. For me, it’s too late now. If you are going through bad times in your relationship today, I hope there is still time for you.