The Honest-to-God Truth of Successful Relationships

Sometimes I wish you were dead.

That’s what Marion told her husband Don during an honesty exercise at a couple’s therapy weekend led by their therapist Ellyn Bader. Bader recounts in her book, Tell Me No Lies, that Marion had been unhappy for years in her marriage, but — not wanting to face the discomfort and shame of divorce — she had simply wished her husband dead. Wishing him dead was easier than facing the possibility of having to choose rejection and loneliness.

The story continues that later that weekend after their talk, Don nearly gets run over by a car. He turns to Marion after the scare and says, “Well, you missed your chance.”

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Please be sure to secure your own mask before helping others.

Before college, I remember being highly satisfied with spending almost all my time alone. I lived about 45 minutes from my high school in the boondocks. My “social life” was spartan. After heading to college, however, the extroverted, caregiving, social part of my being got a taste of life in close proximity to lovely people. Suddenly, I planned every meal around WHO I would meet. I walked to every class with a best friend. It was rare for me to have even an hour alone.

When you’re surrounded by so many fantastically intelligent, quirky people, my relationship-valuing brain said BE WITH PEOPLE. Much of me is glad for that. At Smith, I experienced a world that most never get to: thousands of this world’s smartest women (and a few men!) traipsing around the same place at the same time.

In fact, I’m actually on a 10-day whirlwind trip of the Northeast to visit a lot of those beautiful people right now.

Which brings me back to the title of my post.

On my flight to LaGuardia last night, I heard that line about the oxygen masks (see title) for about the hundredth time in my life. And for about the hundredth time in my life, I thought, “How freakin’ dumb.”

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