the BLOG of stuart mcdonald

What Kind of Relationship Are You In?
December 19, 2008, 12:14 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I must say that I literally had NO IDEA that these past 2 notes on “Let the Man Be the Man” would spark such dialogue. I really just wanted to “vent” and thought I’d let you in on it. I truly and sincerely appreciate the response, both positive and otherwise.

Something that Richard said made me think about something that I read earlier this year. It’s a book  entitled, “Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts” by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott. I found it a great book even though I didn’t have anyone in mind that I could apply it to. I found that I could take a lot of the principles they discussed and use them in everyday life, be it with a spouse or not.

The first chapter deals with different myths that people have when it comes to entering marriage. More specifically the myth they were dealing with when addressing this issue of interdependence was the myth of thinking “ My Spouse Will Make Me Whole”. The following is an except from the book:

“Couples who swallow the myth that their spouse will make them whole become dependent of their partner in a way that is by all standards unhealthy. These couples cultivate what experts call and enmeshed relationship, characterized by a general reliance on their spouse for continual support, assurance, and wholeness.

Dependent partners desire happiness, not personal growth. They are not interested in nourishing the relationship but in being nourished by their partner.
The opposite of an enmeshed marriages is a relationship of rugged self-reliance, often called the disengaged relationship. The term reflects the isolation and independence of spouses who are attempting to earn the sense of wholeness by relying on no one, even their marriage partner.

A sense of wholeness can never be achieved either in an enmeshed or in a disengaged relationship. Both are deeply flawed and dangerous. Instead, wholeness is found in an interdependent relationship, in which two people with self-respect and dignity make a commitment to nurture their own spiritual growth, as well as their partner’s.

These relationships are also know as A-frame (dependent), H-frame (independent), and M-frame (interdependent) relationships.

A            H            M

A-frame relationships are symbolized by the capital letter A. Partners has a strong couple identity but very little individual self-esteem. They think of themselves as a unit rather than separate individuals. Like the long lines in the letter A, they lean on one another. The relationship is structured so that if one lets go, the other falls, And that is exactly what happens when one partners outgrows his to her dependency needs.

H-frame relationships are structured like the capital H. Partners stand virtually alone, each self-sufficient and neither influenced much by the other. There is little or no couple identity and little emotional connection. If one lets go, the other hardly feels a thing.

M-frame relationships rest on interdependence. Each partners has high self-esteem and is committed to help the other partner grow. The could stand on their own, but they choose to be together. The relationship involves mutual influence and emotional support. M-frame relationships exhibit a meaningful couple identity. If one lets go, the other feels a loss but recovers balance. In an interdependent marriage, joy is doubled and sorrow is cut in half.”

Being they’re doctors and all, I’m not sure I can say it much better.


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