We exited our hotel room in Panama City this morning; three doors down was a hulk of a young man with hunched shoulders and the look of a creature headed for slaughter.
Opposite him was a small Panamanian woman, perhaps 25, hands on her hips glaring at him, angry Spanish words gushing out of her that I couldn’t translate, but fully understood. It was early Sunday morning and they were off to the relationship races!
We continued down the hall, round to the elevators which took us to the most incredible “complimentary” breakfast I have ever seen/smelled/tasted, created by a two star Michelin chef, which none of the couples scattered around the pristine white table cloths, abundant silverware and fancy table settings, seemed to apprecaite.
It is difficult to enjoy even the best of food when starving to death in relationship.
At the table across from us the older husband did not speak one word to his distant wife, son or step daughter. Instead he carried on a lively conversation with the people at the tables around him. His son focused on his food, eyes straight ahead as his wife carried on a conversation with herself in blunt German.
Among the seven early morning couples in the dining room nobody looked happy.
Certainly, it was possible to tell who had already had some morning coffee and who hadn’t, but couple after couple looked like they were alone together, their relationship batteries running down and quite disinterested in each other.
“Is this really the state of relationship?” I wondered.
Obviously it is, and I don’t think it is only in this dining room. Watching couples on the airplane and in the airport made me cringe. Couples growling about who got the window seat, or glaring at each other, but mostly indifferent: an absence of compassion, touching, exchange of attention and energy flow is so common we hardly notice it, even when the dead couple is us.
Sure, there are exceptions. But few and far between. Look around, I dare you: look closely, take off your rose colored glasses and it will quickly become obvious that our model of relationship is bankrupt. It’s dilapidated and worn out: the gladiators haven’t got what it takes to go another round, and yet they do.
This may all sound horribly negative. It is just the way that things are. You can tell who the new couples are—they still talk, touch and enjoy each other’s company. But in a matter of weeks, or months, or in the luckiest of cases, years, they fall into a somnambulistic waltz inherent in the old model of relationship.
The State of Relating
Father and mother, forgive me for the stereotyping I am about to engage in.
I am going to say some stuff here, and I am not suggesting that it is true, but it is based on many decades of studying relationship, suffering and celebrating in relationship, and 35 years of courses in which I have explored relationship with thousands of people.
Women beat the crap out of their men. Not because they don’t like them, but because they have been oppressed by men for thousands of years and because men deserve it: enjoy it, earn it and encourage it.
Men are mostly oblivious about anything, but the simplest things. They speak far less words in a day than women do, not because they withhold, but because they really have little to say. They come already satisfied and would do anything to please any woman if they could just figure out what that was. But they can’t, which doesn’t stop them from trying, but totally keeps them from succeeding.
Men often give up.
Women often get angry, feel hurt, rejected, alone or abused.
The cure for this whole mess isn’t complex: it is simple.
Fast Relief for Relationship
Enough of the same old patterns driving relationship into the ground, having people who are married wish they weren’t and people who are single wishing they were in relationship.
Wake-up women, and discover what it is to be a man. Release your emotions a little, let yourself be satisfied with a cup of coffee, a sporting event, a quickie or just accomplishing the most simple thing. Let go of all you have to do and pop a silly, satisfied grin on your face.
Wake-up men and feel some emotions, discover under your simplicity that things aren’t as simple as they seem. Put her pleasure first, and then do whatever it takes to please her. Knit your brow and worry about things while trying to make everything better.
Yes, the simplest cure for relationship fatigue is role reversal.
Woman become men, for a few minutes a day, and men become women, for a few minutes a day. After a week or a month of this role reversal will grow into empathy. And everybody knows enough empathy leads to compassion, compassion blossoms into love and pretty soon we will be laughing, loving and having a hunky dory time together.
Sure, there is more to relationship than this, but role reversal offers a good, rewarding and powerful place to start and some badly needed relief. Try it!
Author: Jerry Stocking
Images: Used with Permission
Editor: Travis May