I used to take the statement, “You two are like an old married couple!” as a total form of flattery when someone said that to me and the person I was spending time with. Over time though, I realized just how far that was from the truth. I began to notice how each of my connections being told that, never lasted very long. Because of this, how I handle this statement today is completely different when it’s directed towards any one of my relationships. Instead, I use it as a warning sign as it could be indicative of behaviors that are spiritually unhealthy within that connection.
For seven years I was in a domestic partnership with a man, who by the end of it, I secretly loathed. While the first few years of that relationship were wonderful, the last four were not. What most people saw by then were the two of us arguing over just about everything. I lost count of the number of times when people said how much we looked like an old married couple. The same thing can be said of a friendship that I had for about four years with someone in Massachusetts. In that connection, 9 times out of 10 when the two of us were together, minor arguments ensued, irritations flared up, and those around us would say that very same statement about us.
Those are only two examples of the many others when I’ve heard this statement. In each of them, there was always one common factor; lack of control. In many stereotypical old married couples, what that constant bickering is all about generally boils down to one or both not being in control and getting their way. The sad thing is that it’s often rooted in each person’s insecurities and those usually stem from unresolved issues from the past, sometimes even before that relationship ever came together.
In my case, I had a lot of unresolved mother issues up until just a few years ago. My mother was a very controlling person and I spent most of my life caving into each of her demands. As I grew up, I unfortunately became just like her and started trying to control all the people around me that I was close to. So when I wasn’t in control in a situation with any of those people, I’d start bickering and arguing with them in an attempt to get my way. And eventually, someone around that connection would get tired of hearing it and say that it was like that old married couple.
Thankfully, I’ve worked through all of my mother issues and continue to work on letting go of control by turning my will and my life over to the care of God each and every day. Frustratingly, I still heard that statement recently, as a few friends said that of my current partner and I. The difference now is that I can safely say the weight of that statement is not of my own doing. My partner is just starting his own uphill journey to letting go of his past, his control issues, his anger, and other insecurities he’s held onto for an entire lifetime. I plan on supporting him through this because I know we both want to spend the rest of our lives together. He also has the willingness to do the work necessary to get there and so do I. But just as importantly, neither one of us really wants to be like that old married couple who can do nothing more than constantly bicker and argue with each other over way too many things.
So if you are in any type of relationship where someone has told you that “The two of you are like an old married couple!”, you may want to take it as a wake-up call. While I believe it’s next to impossible to completely avoid ALL bickering and arguing, seeing it take place day after day isn’t spiritually healthy for either of you. Underlying each of those confrontations are control issues and deeply imbedded insecurities that need to be addressed. By avoiding them, you may find your relationship ending like so many of my own did. By working through them, you may find your relationship enduring, and even better, you may never have to hear that statement again.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson