Relationships are not 2+2=4, but 5

Let us figure out why 2+2=4 is questioned in family and friend relationships.

Relationships are the most integral part of our lives. Kissing your wife as soon as you get back home for a very tiring day at work; eating your mother’s delicious hand-made cookies after a year that she sent from halfway across the country; your son holding your finger with his tiny, little fist for the first time; your dad giving you advice on how you could save that extra $100,000 to buy your dream house – each of the relationships that we share with the people close to us makes life worth living.

Having successful relationships has a direct impact on our day-to-day life, as a person’s relationship with the people around him controls his mood and, consequently, his daily efficiency. While failure of relationships happen for a multitude of reasons, one of the major underlying causes of almost all of them is cited to be a loss of the trust and affection that you once used to have for the person.

1. Judgement on the basis of Relationship

Contrary to what most of us believe, we judge a person’s actions and decisions on the basis of the level of comfort and closeness that we share with them, rather than judging them on the righteousness of their actions.

Consider you are in a coffee house with your boyfriend/girlfriend and they accidentally spill some coffee on you. No big deal, right? They say sorry and hand you a tissue, you smile back at them and all is good.

Now consider the same accident had happened with the waiter instead of them. Would your response be the same? No! Most of us would have lashed out at the waiter, while some would have smirked and cleaned up the spill.

Based upon our relationship with a person, we often unknowingly support a bad deed or oppose a good one, with our decision being influenced by the feelings we have for the person.

2. Time plays a significant role

Time also plays a significant role in every relationship when it is about our behavior towards another person, with an example being that of the progression of a love-affair.

The snoring of your girlfriend while she sleeps which made her look absolutely adorable for the first two days after you started living together, and that same snoring becomes the most annoying thing within a period of months.

Your mother dressing you up for nearly 12 years suddenly becomes an embarrassment when you grow up into a teenager. It is both irritating and embarrassing when your dad hugs you in front of your friends, while it was totally okay for you to ask for one when you fell down while learning how to walk. Our behavior towards the people around us change as we grow up and start building opinions and perspectives of our own.

Studies have shown that our behavior towards our love-interest changes as we move forward in a relationship, with us being ignorant of their mistakes and shortcomings in the beginning during the so-called “honeymoon-period” of an intimate relationship. However, as the period gets over, the reality surfaces and we begin to realize our compatibility with the person based on their behavior and character, and not on their looks and our infatuation alone. While a compatible couple experiences no significant change during this period, some start having trouble maintaining their relationships, to the point of digging up old topics that happened during the early stages of their relationship as a defense mechanism during fights and disagreements. For instance,

So your mother is visiting you and your wife for a week. You have been putting off buying a bigger refrigerator for a really long time because the small one you already have is not meeting your requirements now. And you have decide to buy a bigger one that weekend itself. However, your mother does not know of the trouble you have been having with the refrigerator for the past 3 months, and suggests you to keep going with the small one, thinking she is helping his son save some money. You brush off your mother’s advice and buy a bigger refrigerator anyway, and your mother seems to be okay about it.” But after she leaves when her week-long visit is over, you notice she is not talking to you the way she used to, for no apparent reason, particularly to your spouse. You get in a fight with your mother and tell her to respect your wife. Without even realizing, you hurt your mother’s feeling for something as small as an electrical appliance. This results in a general feeling of negativity towards your mother.

The exact opposite could have easily happened, had you listened to your mother and killed off your plan to buy a bigger refrigerator that you promised to your spouse 12 weeks ago. Your wife would have felt disrespected and ignored, and a fight would have been on the lines as soon as your mother left. The above situations might have otherwise been avoided with a discussion then. I understand it is quite subjective though and vary from culture to culture too.

Another important instance,

Since the mother is the only significant woman in a man’s life since the beginning, trouble surfaces as the wife begins to replace the mother in the man’s life as the most significant woman. The situation often puts the man in a serious dilemma, as he begins to take the mother for granted and prioritize the opinions of our better-half in some cases, while the exact opposite happens in others.

3. Permanent or Long Term Relationships

Long-term relationships and our attitude is often decided by the phase of life and age that we are experiencing at the moment. As we grow up, it is quite natural that we tend to form new opinions and perspectives while changing the existing ones that often affects our opinions and perceptions of the people around us.

It is most commonly observed when we begin to disrespect our parents. While most of the parents spend the majority of their lives caring for their children and correcting their mistakes innumerous times and helping us become the person we are.

Moreover, as we all know that the our parents get old i.e. ‘become kids again’. Contrary to how the parents corrected the same mistake hundreds of times, we often become irritable and lash out at them when they need us for a little things in our day-to-day life, with some going to the extent disowning their parents in old age, forgetting the fact that the parents never disowned them when they were in need.

While the above shared troubles appear to be entirely different, the solution to these is the same – work towards preserving the relationship. We often get carried away with logic and begin to reason with ourselves based on what is supposed to be done, instead of what should be done.

We have to realize that adjustments and sacrifices need to be made and our ego has to be put aside, with all the effort going into preserving the relationships, as life is nothing without them. You might be at an executive position in your professional life where no one could question you; and consciously or unconsciously you would expect the same in personal life; but, excuse me, it is never going to happen. So, again you left with two choices: Break or Preserve that relationship. We all know, walking away is easier.

Before breaking, do not ignore to remember that how that person has helped you that time, if not several times.

And although you might deny it right now, you expect that person to be there when the need arises, again. Get on terms with the fact that many times you will have to think from your heart instead of following the technicalities offered by the brain. And don’t stress too much thinking you don’t want to be treated differently by your loved ones, as ls the relationship is maintained. However, managing your ego alone might not be the only thing that potentially preserves your relationships, as contrary to what you might believe, expectations are often a culprit in the souring of relationships.

Most of us do ‘Give and Take’ in our everyday relationships. But for successful relationships, attitude of ‘giving’ rather than ‘expecting back’ consider really healthy. Sometimes giving in terms of just being present for the other person, or just lend your ears when the other person wants to take out his/her anger without suggesting anything back can do wonders.

We usually never try to learn how to pass our learning or opinions or perspectives in the right way that does not hurt or disrespect others. Believe me, it is easier said than done, however, this learning can make a big difference in people’s lives.

The trivial logical reasoning of 2+2=4 given by our mind cannot be followed in relationships, as you have to realize that 2+2=5 when you are in any relationship, and put in that extra single effort needed to make them last long, you can be assured you’ll get a load-some of happiness and satisfaction in return for the entirety of your life.

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