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October 6, 2007 / TildeWill

Time to Fix a Problem

Undoubtedly the times I’ve been the most hurt, the most vulnerable is when something blindsides me. “There’s [consequence] because of [problem] that you weren’t even aware of until now. And to be fair, the times when I’ve caused the most damage, the most heart break is when I haven’t given someone enough time to fix a problem.

It’s obvious that a person can’t fix something he doesn’t realize is a problem. So why don’t we always jump up at the first sign of trouble and let that person know? Are we afraid to be “overreacting”? Do we not want to seem “whiny” or “always complaining”? Maybe that’s some of it.

But what about the things that bother us that we know, or at least strongly suspect, the other person cannot or will not fix? Is it worth talking about something that will not result in a change, especially if the only thing that will come of it is an argument? Is it here that we sit on it, hope that we’ll adapt and accept the behavior? Is the end result an anger so great that it can no longer be contained and it results in the ending of a relationship? That seems unfortunate.

Ideally, I’d want to be able to bring stuff like that to the table. If it gets fixed, great. If not, it would be nice if that were fine too. But too much stuff piling up on the table unfixed seems like it would be a problem too.

When we lived in Michigan, my dad had a box that sat on the workbench in the basement. On the side it said “Dad’s Fix-It Box”, and anything that was broken and dad might be able to repair went in there. I don’t know if it was something he instantiated, or if it was my mom, or if it was a solution they came up with together. I also don’t know if my dad saw this box as a fun way to spend free time, or if it was more of a chore to him. I remember a model train from their train sets seemed like it was in there all of the time.

But maybe a box like that is needed in a relationship. Scrawl out on paper, “It really annoys me when you forget to turn off the lights” and drop it in the fix-it box. If it gets fixed, great! If not, it stays in the box and maybe at some point the box overflows, or maybe you go through it a year later and it doesn’t matter so much anymore.

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2 Comments

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  1. myratrue / Oct 6 2007 8:04 pm

    “But what about the things that bother us that we know, or at least strongly suspect, the other person cannot or will not fix? Is it worth talking about something that will not result in a change, especially if the only thing that will come of it is an argument?”

    I’ve seen this in my relationships, and when it bothered me, but I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t think it would change… well, all it led to was me feeling terrible, and them not even knowing why I was so angry, or so unhappy all the time. I think at least understanding that it is a problem is a start to fixing it. (I don’t know how we fix this, but it makes me ___ when you do ____). Of course, it took me a long time to say anything, so we see how much room *I* have to talk!

  2. lina / Oct 8 2007 8:36 am

    IMO, you always need to bring up issues that bother you. Granted it’s part of any relationship’s natural course, but still talking is better than not. You’ll find that most of the time something seemingly stupid (like leaving the lights on) is really about something else anyway (perhaps worry about higher electric bills), thus talk. Other times it really is just a pet peeve~

    Everyone knows that first honeymoon stage of a relationship. Your SO can do nothing wrong. It’s like they are perfect in every way and you can barely believe that you hooked up with such awesomeness. Then down the road comes the “how could I ever think they were perfect when they refuse to put their laundry in the hamper the moment they take it off!!” part of the relationship. Some of these things you just learn to live with, and some of those things you can change. Perhaps you can learn to put dirty dishes straight into the dishwasher instead of leaving them sit in the sink, and they can learn to turn out lights as they leave the room, while you may never with the battle of the hamper, and they may never win the battle of the toilet seat.

    Regardless, I’m a fan of talking about any little annoyance in polite conversation before something little turns into something huge and leads to an ugly screaming match. Besides, how do they know how much of a pet peeve leaving the lights on is for you unless you tell them?

    Of course the same goes for bigger issues too. The sooner you put stuff on the table, the better~

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