It can also be just as shocking to observe the public interaction of a couple only to wonder, “Why are these people together?”
Having worked many years with couples, I’ve come to understand that no one but the partners involved really know the differences in the private or public versions of their relationship.
While some differences in the private and public versions of a couple’s relationship are inevitable and even desirable, differences that cause or hide pain, rejection and disdain are destructive.
How different are the private and public versions of your relationship?
In this fast paced world of expectations, social media, instant communication and blurred public and private lives, it’s worth accessing whether the differences in the public and private versions of your relationship are desirable or destructive.
The Private Version
Are you trusted confidantes?
Can you hold on to your relationship ties despite outside family demands?
Do your friends know how important your relationship is to you?
The Public Version
We all have a public version of our private self that is adjusted to fit the role, demands and expectations of our public lives. While your public “image” might be at times very different from your role as a spouse or partner, it shouldn’t disqualify it. In the best of situations, the partners’ public selves enhance and are appreciated in the private relationship.
“ Best in Show”
One of the most painful things that men and women report is feeling that their marriage or relationship is a charade.
“He’s all smiles and arm around me in public, but we haven’t been together in months. He acts like I’m invisible.”
A few words written or spoken may open the door.
“ We can’t keep pretending we’re ok. It’s destructive to both of us. Let’s talk or seek some help.”
“ I can’t keep pretending we’re ok. I’m going to speak to someone – join me.”
Whether it’s a partner flirting with everything breathing, or a partner who’s joined the crowd in wife/ husband bashing – a partner who becomes an offensive stranger on a regular basis compromises the private trust and bond in the relationship. If it leads to quiet resentment and dreaded time together – it’s emotionally costly. Sometimes the partner is quite different at home and in a sober and private time it may be worth considering,
“Is there a way that we can both have a good time with that crowd without either of us feeling belittled or ignored?”
“All In The Family”
It’s not uncommon for a partner to feel discarded when their partner’s involvement with family becomes a turn off switch to support, affection and public connection.
“ I really hate being with your family. It’s like I don’t matter.”
“Why do you have to put a rift between me and my family?”
When partners realize that the issue is not them, they can hold on to their private bond. I’ve often reminded partners that they have more leverage than they think when they verbally or nonverbally invite the family to accept their partner by their show of positive connection to him/her. Most families will follow your lead even while complaining.
“Don’t Ask- Don’t Tell”
Probably one of the best joys in a relationship is to go public with the love you share.
photo attribution morguefile.com by Seemann
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Last reviewed: 21 Sep 2012