Sunday, August 30, 2015

Tough Bits

One of the shows I watched on Friday at the Edinburgh Fringe was called 'Manchurian Rhapsody'. It is the tale of an ultra-orthodox Jewish Family from Manchester in the few hours before a shabbat dinner. The characters would occasionally break into song and dance with words twisted to fit the tale and culture. The son, who was getting married in a week, explained that he had only met his fiancee a few times. In this culture, he said, it is not unusual to get married first and then fall in love. The idea that you need to fall in love first, he said, hides the tough bits. You have to work at the tough bits and then the proper love will come.

Often the 'tough bits' revolve around things we aren't that keen to talk about. Whether with friends, family or potential life partners, there are things that clash when reality strikes. The bits in between the bubbles where you are completely present with each other, can listen fully, and can do something - perhaps the thing - that connects you. Dealing with stuff involves uncomfortable conversations. Uncomfortable conversations requires incredible emotional intelligence. The thing you are talking about will normally be much less important to you than the relationship, but it is a peeve that gnaws away.

Paul Ekman, famous base character for the TV series 'Lie to Me', believes he can predict with incredible accuracy whether relationships will last based on signals of 'contempt'. I think this contempt starts to build when there are clashes around these uncomfortable conversations. Potential sources of irritation like the way people deal with money, their concept of time, their idea of cleanliness, how much they procrastinate, or how they deal with moodiness. When someone irritates you, it is hard to give them the benefit of doubt when something happens that you don't like. Press repeat too often and contempt builds. Contempt sees maliciousness instead of mistakes. Contempt builds into disgust.

I think hearing how other people deal with these things would help. We tend to tell (moan with) close friends, but we don't like the idea of dirty laundry being spread too far. I am going to try and see if I can crack the code to writing about some of these issues while stripping out the identities of people. I imagine there are common threads we could all benefit from hearing. Obviously that depends on people being prepared to moan to me, and trust me to strip out the useful bits.

The stuff that doesn't matter shouldn't get in the way of the stuff that does.
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