Words of Wisdom from Luther

by admin on May 24, 2011

Did you ever watch a couple who clearly aren’t getting along. It’s painful but fascinating isn’t it. They may seem to be having a fairly ordinary conversation but each exchange is loaded with bitterness and barbs. Sometimes what they are saying is pleasant enough, but the tone they use to say it tells you all you need to know about the state of that relationship.

Once, outside a coffee shop I watched one woman almost savage her husband for the most innocuous of things, “really, this is it,” she said “this is where you decided to sit, couldn’t you have found a worse place, now I have to sit with the sun in my eyes or on the back of my neck. Thanks a lot.”

And he just took it and didn’t say anything, he didn’t even get angry. Clearly it wasn’t the seat that was the root of the problem – nor was it the sun, this was 9am on a Saturday morning in San Francisco, the odds of there being any sun let alone strong enough to cause a problem were minimal – there was history here and the seat was the excuse to dredge it up and hurl it into his face.

And I’ve seen it the other way around, the man angry and bitter at the wife for no apparent reason.

All this came to mind the other day as I was watching the British TV detective series “Luther” (brilliant by the way, not always easy or light viewing but great scripts and amazing acting). One of the characters, talking about a serial killer husband and his unfaithful wife (see, told you it was good) said “The real tragedy of marriage is that women always think men will change but they don’t, and men always think women won’t change but they do.”

We all bring our own expectations to relationships, our own hopes and dreams and desires, but when they don’t work out or don’t work out as fully as we hope we often look around us for someone to blame. I didn’t become a writer because I had to go to work in a bank to support you. I didn’t become a successful actor because you never gave me the support I needed. I didn’t – fill in the blank – because you didn’t – fill in the blank.

It may be that some couples just grow apart. That’s not surprising is it, if you get married very young, you are almost certain to change as you get older. The person you are in your 40’s and 50’s is often very different than the person you were in your 20’s. So it’s understandable that a couple will start feeling differently about life, about what’s important to them, about what they want to do.

What’s harder to understand is why so many people then take those feelings and instead of doing something positive with them, such as finding a new life of their own or creating space in their marriage where they can explore those differences, they take those feelings and turn them into a weapon to be used against their partner. And so every slight problem in their relationship becomes a reason to tap into that well of anger. Every difference of opinion is further proof of the poisonous impact that person is having on your life.

Sometimes you see a couple who are older and have clearly been together for a long time who are just constantly sniping at each other, to the point where they don’t even seem to notice it anymore. The anger between them has become so commonplace that it doesn’t even seem to be deliberate, it’s automatic. It’s become a part of them and their relationship, one that is likely to persist for the rest of their life. How sad is that.

People change. Not always when we want, or in the way we want, or as much as we want. And sometimes people don’t change, or at least not in the ways we want them to. We have two choices.

1.  We can accept it and carry on.


2.  We can say “this is not for me” and act accordingly, either setting parameters on what you want the relationship to be – or leave altogether.

Of course there is a third option. Which is

3.  To stay exactly the same as you are, and to let bitterness consume you and your relationship with your partner for the rest of your life.

Me, I’m thinking options 1 or 2 seem like a better approach to a happier life.

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