There is a trend presented in the media that relationships are expected to uphold in which the people involved can communicate without words. Instead, they manage to say all that needs to be said via a glance or touch. I don’t have that luxury.
Currently my boyfriend is angrily banging around the kitchen on his hands and knees scrubbing at the floor. It’s 11 PM and we just finished watching a movie. Do I know what set him off between the end of the movie and stepping into the kitchen? No, unfortunately I do not, and no amount of hand holding in going to change that. It’s is not ground breaking to state that the media paints unrecognizable goals, and the romanticized way in which couples are expected to flawlessly mold together is just another notch in their belt.
For a little bit of background, we’ve been dating for nearly two years and I will admit that I have tried to shove feelings and opinions under the rug in favor of having a seemingly perfect relationship. It should come as no surprise that this does not work. For the two of us, verbal communication is necessary (Although I can understand that not everyone can rely on verbal communication and that for some people alternative methods of communication with their partner are far more effective, however I can only speak from a perspective of a verbal communicator).
Watching couples on the screen who can softly caress the other’s hand, letting them know that they are worried about their current financial situation, and having the other nod understandingly creates the idea that if your relationship cannot work like that you are doing something wrong.
My boyfriend is my partner and closest friend, but I grew up on moments like The Breakfast Club’s Claire wordlessly placing her earring into Bender’s hand before walking away, or Elizabeth meeting Mr. Darcy on the moor at sunrise and immediately resolving their Pride and Prejudices with a kiss. Passionate acts like this left me hopeful about finding the one who could understand me, but now leave me wondering what the hell just happened? Harry Potter can run across the common room into Ginny’s arms and make the instantaneous decision to forget everything that was previously holding him back, but I can’t figure out what it means when my boyfriend continually pesters me with small pokes and prods until he later tells me he was trying it initiate sex.
When I don’t immediately pick up on non-verbal hints like this, I’ll admit I begin to doubt my relationship. Not because I love him any less, but because while I have to have a semi-serious sit down in order to discuss that yes, it probably is annoying that I don’t do the dishes as often as I should be, it’s discouraging because I’m under the impression that other couples don’t have to do this. They (seemingly) don’t have to put as much work into their relationships, therefore I’m doing something wrong.
I’m clearly not the only one with this assumption though, because a quick Google search on “how to improve your relationship” brings up countless lists, and each one touches on some form of improving communication techniques. Listening, being honest, not keeping secrets, and the like appear on multiple sites.
Why do we have to be reminded of such simple aspects of human relationships? When couples hit certain points in their relationship there is this false idea that they have surpassed communication and can coexist in perfect harmony. With this hanging over our heads, it hard to remain positive about any relationship flaws we may have. Yet, there is no universal guide on how-to do relationships and having to sit down with your partner to discuss even the most minor event does not mean you are doomed to fail.
I’m not about to give up on my relationship because it doesn’t mirror the couple in jewelry commercials, I’ll just have to turn off the TV and ask him how he’s feeling.