Even when people are firing on all cylinders, relationships can be tricky. When there’s a persistent problem, like an illness or an addiction, in the mix, they can be impossible. Persistent problems can be the source of much harm. The alcoholic you can’t rely on. The gambler you can’t trust with money. The depressive who won’t do anything. The phobic who won’t go anywhere. The narcissist who makes everything about her. The guy who can’t seem to keep his dick in his pants. When problems like alcoholism, compulsive gambling, depression, phobias, narcissism, or compulsive sex take over, it takes hard work to eradicate them and eternal vigilance to keep them away. Relapse can be expected. When we’re talking about addiction, it takes an average of seven real attempts before recovery feels solid and, even then, you won’t know if he’s going to need eight. Mental illness also tends to be episodic, and, if nothing is done about it, each new episode is worse than the last. People who have succumbed once to the allure of violence, sexual recklessness, self harm, suicide attempts, or self pity are more likely to do it again. Moreover, problems will often go into hiding when they feel threatened, so that what appears to be recovery is really a more pernicious hidden phase of the same problem that caused so much trouble before.
If you’ve been traveling this road to reconciliation and don’t believe you’re getting anywhere, maybe your partner is looking at everything differently. What’s black to you, is white to him. Up is down and in is out. When you think you’re heading towards reconciliation, he thinks you’re pointing the other way. (Continue reading…)