In the fall of 1982, I was a graduate student in Baltimore, Maryland. Every morning, I got up early to go to my job that started at 7AM. From work it was onto class at 4PM . This was what I did every day for 6 months straight. Part of my morning ritual was listening to the radio en route to work. It seems that I heard this song every morning:
Over 30 years later, this song is still playing on the radio. I hear this song today differently than I did then. This song has a therapeutic theme which I have heard many times. For example-
How many of my clients :
- have told me this story?
- got involved with a controlling possessive person only to have to extricate themselves from that relationship?
- did not or could not get out of that relationship?
- have been with that “love of my life” only for their partner to drop them and move on?
It’s always interesting how people choose their partner. In previous blogs, we focused in on the communication patterns that stirred up “old stuff”. I often wonder what each person looks for in a relationship and what “old stuff” is contributing to that decision. I’ve worked with countless number of women who grew up in addicted families and married another addicted person. It was a familiar match made in hell. I’ve worked with men who had a cold, rejecting, hurtful, mother who married a woman who was cold, rejecting, and hurtful. Some of these decisions were consciously made. The person thought that their partner needed fixing or that they would get better. Other times these discoveries were made in my office after the fact. Regardless of the motive, the question that I hear is “why did I do this”? “Why did I marry him/her?”.
Michelle Weiner-Davis is a therapist, and author of the book Divorce Busting. Her approach is to save marriages because of the costs, both financial and emotional, of divorce. However, when people are married to the wrong person, or have a dysfunctional, magnetic connection to a partner, those marriages can not work. The cost of staying is far greater than the cost of leaving. Staying in bad marriages, strips self-esteem, self- worth and self- love. People tend to deal with these partnerships through “quick fix band aids”–addictive behavior, infidelity, or by developing physical illnesses or mental illness such as anxiety or depression . These costs are chronic, painful, and some times leads to worse problems.
The “Should I Stay or Should I Go” decision is difficult and scary. It requires weighing out the advantages and disadvantages of staying or going. If you follow the Divorce Busting approach, you stay and you work it out. If you are in a dysfunctional, painful, empty relationship, you have a lot of thinking to do. Don’t You Want Me Baby is a painful refrain full of rejection; it’s also a song of getting away and getting healthy.