Rock the Boat

You’ve probably heard this saying many times…”what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”. This should be an euphemism for “rock the boat”

Let me just get straight to it and tell you this rule can save your relationship, your life, your dignity, your sanity, and anything else you consider dear to your identity. This is the golden rule relationship experts should be teaching, but for some reason I cannot explain, there is a lot of emphasis on making sacrifices, compromising, apologizing when you are not wrong, and getting your ego out of the way. While I am a big advocate of deducting ego from relationship dynamics, I have to say lines have to be drawn when it comes to compromises and apologies.

Many people get burned in relationships because they don’t know about this rule, or are too afraid to put it into action. “What will happen if I retaliate?” “Wouldn’t it be unnecessarily vindictive and immature to do unto my partner as he/she has done unto me?” Well, the big question should be “what do you have to lose if you rock the boat?” That seems to be the big problem for many people- rocking the boat. They are so scared of falling into the water, they’d rather sit in the boat with a raving lunatic, trying to appease expressions of insanity.

I was chatting with a male friend recently, and mentioned I needed advice for one of my friends. Every time they had a fight, her boyfriend threatened to chat up other women (his ex included) if she did not agree with his point of view. This was a little distressing for her; she had invested a lot in the relationship, and felt like her boyfriend was taking her for granted. My advice was to “leave!” Someone better would appreciate her. My male buddy’s advice was even much better. “Stay”

Stay? Stay and let this dude walk all over her after everything she has done for him? He laughed and asked if I’d give the same advice to a married woman. Yes,divorce might be on the table but it is easier said than done. Rather than leaving, smile and administer the same medicine! ‘Oh?’ I thought.  ‘Yes, what’s good for the goose must be awesome for the gander.’ Sometimes you cannot earn the respect you deserve, and that is not because you’ve dragged yourself in the mud. Sometimes, it is simply because you are caught in a relationship with someone who is drowning in delusions of personal grandeur, no matter how amazing you are, they tend to nitpick at what you are not. Threats are just tools they use to reassure themselves their delusions of superiority are valid, and by keeping quiet, you are reinforcing the thought that their delusions are indeed valid. When they rock your boat, it is time to rock theirs.

Like my friend, many men and women keep quiet when they are threatened; many endure an absent spouse who exists, yet does not exist (it’s like a weird continuum of space and time). Some people stretch themselves to the limit to ‘keep their spouse happy’. This is very common amongst women- they stretch themselves to the limit to prove they are different from the ex who hurt their new found treasure, hence they would do anything to prove it…. and this is how they end up exactly where they don’t want to be – emotionally abused and battered.

Every serious relationship is an amalgamation of two  individuals with different previous learning experiences and background; hence there is a need to learn each other’s rules, peeves and joy spots. This in essence requires some training. You teach your partner how to treat you through your actions and the things you agree to. You teach your partner how to treat you by the way you react to insults or condescension. You teach your partner how to treat you by the way you value yourself, your time, and of course, by your willingness to rock the boat when you realize you are being taken for a ride you did not bargain for. You need to be willing to dole out the same medicine in equal doses to express your displeasure. Stop trying to be the perfect spouse! That has never helped anyone! Try being a human spouse instead, that’s more likely to work in your favor. If you rock the boat, a partner who truly loves you will work on restoring the boat’s balance, even if it means falling into the water with you.

Biting your tongue, crying in secret, obeying rules in the hope that it will make the relationship work, tending to your partner like he or she is more important than you are, will not take your relationship anywhere. If anything at all, you might start to flirt with the boundaries of insanity and insecurity. You will become a shadow of yourself, and you will end up broken, battered and possibly abandoned. Even if you manage to keep your partner with you, you’ll find yourself in a two-way relationship alone, playing for both sides of the field, trying to balance everything on your shoulders. Stop hurting yourself with your silence. Rock the boat and express what you feel. Your partner will either adjust and realize you are not to be taken for granted, or your partner will leave in search of a new unsuspecting prey, in which case, I chant

“Good Riddance!”