Keys to a Healthy Relationship

By Raymond Viger

I’ve already told you, in these columns, of the macho education that men got in the 1950s and 60s when it came to romantic relationships. Think of James Bond during the Sean Connery era, or Humphrey Bogart. A star would kiss a leading lady who would say no about 15 times, then, within about 15 seconds, fall into the arms of the star.

Romantic comedies often portrayed two people in a relationship that didn’t suit them. At the end, they would break up and find themselves almost instantly in another better-suited relationship. The screenwriters were trying to convince you that you could just break up with someone and not go through a painful period of heartbreak. That you can simply pass from one relationship to another in the blink of an eye.

And what about all those songs that laud the idea of emotional dependence? I love you forever… I can’t live without you… Don’t leave me… I’m going to die…

And on TV

Now I’d like to introduce you to another type of televisual malaise. Subtle. Imperceptible. But one that can do great harm.

In this fictitious story, a young female police officer kills a bandit. It’s the first time she’s ever experienced anything like this. She’s sitting in front of her locker changing into her street clothes at the end of this terrifying day. She is crying; she is devastated.

Up to now, I think the screenwriters have an excellent opportunity to show us the importance of expressing our own emotions. To not minimize or play down what we’ve experienced. Of the necessity of finding help…

I see her possible savior show up at the end of the show. It’s her boss, who is also her father. He approaches her cautiously.

“I heard you did really well today,” he tells her with pride in his voice.

”It’s the first time I ever drew my service revolver… and I killed him,” she replies, weeping.

“I have good news to announce… I accepted the promotion that they’re offering me.”

And the young police officer goes from weepiness to joy when she learns of her father’s promotion.

Was the father listening to his daughter’s emotions?

Is the daughter repressing her emotions so she can appear to be happy for her father?

If the daughter is suppressing her emotions, can she truly be happy for her father?

A father-daughter relationship. An employee-employer relationship. She’s shaken, for having shot and killed a criminal. He’s delighted to announce his promotion.

Any relationship between two people starts with each listening to the other. Whether the relationship be love, friendship, professional, business or other, the same basis has to apply.  If there’s no listening, there’s no relationship. It’s just two people performing monologues in front of each other.

It’s true that what can be presented as desirable in certain films, songs or books is debatable, and may not pass the acid test of a healthy relationship of equals. To avoid the traps of a bad relationship, the first step is to listen to yourself and to the other person.

In our life choices, the definition of our relationships has to, at least as a minimum, include words like:

– fair

– equitable

– just

– honest

– honorable

– healthy

– balanced

– satisfying

Because the objective of any relationship should be the blossoming of the people concerned. If not, you have to learn to break it off and mourn its passing.

And if your inner voice cries “Help!”… Listen to it and ask for help.

French version on the Reflet de Société website

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