I have always heard that there is no status in close relationships. I believed it in the beginning.
Now I feel that it is impossible. What is status? Status is the relative position each member has in a hierarchy based on what the participant brings to the relationship. If the relationship is alive, growing, or simply bringing to the participants what they value, each participant must – consciously or otherwise, intuitively or otherwise – bring something to the table.
Sounds mechanistic or mundane, but is it not how things are?
While in healthy and valuable relationships everyone brings something of value, the form of contribution differs. While both partners might bring care, concern, protection, reliability and freshness, the areas in which these are brought and the manner in which they are brought, the frequency at which it occurs, the combination with other elements in which this contribution occurs … there is a world of difference. So, there is always a hierarchy, because I am I, and simply cannot replicate the patterns, intensity and frequency of someone else. No point.
So, if I am different from my partner, there are obviously contributions from both that are more/less than the other.
So, why do people begin to judge one to be better than the other? How is the dependability that there would always be warm dinner with relished, matched-to-season preparations on the table inferior to dependability that someone will just be around and will lend a name and reputation? How is cautiousness and calculated risk better than spontaneity? How is convergent thinking and synthesis better than analytical thinking? How is withholding superior to giving away? How is a specialist better than a generalist? How is a focused person better than not focused one?
There is no ‘always’ attachable to any of the apparently contrasting pairs of states of being.
These are better treated as the givens and enjoyed as per the beat, tempo or rhythm (set by so many factors) to which a pair dances. Or, like kayaking when sometimes someone else is behind you and telling you, and some other times you are in the driver’s seat – take turns, recognize when it is time for you to follow and lead when you are in charge, because after all, a relationship needs the stocked refrigerator as much as (at times at least, say when 5 unannounced guests are coming over and when this is frequent) cash in the pocket- because, while at the time of shopping, cash is more important, but cooking emergency breakfasts and elaborate dinners requires more than just money and grocery.
But then, why do people believe that they should be forever in control? Why do people not like the other to question, differ, be different? Why can’t relationship function in the face of contrasts whatever the relationship is – love, friendship, work??
Yesterday suddenly the Game of Snakes and Ladders came to my mind. Isn’t that the game in which climbing is always better than sliding? Isn’t it the game where if you are not winning, you are stuck or losing? That is where you need to climb and outclimb the other. While sliding in inevitable, it slows down your winning and completing the game. So it kind of disappoints, and irritates..
So – just checking: are you mentally playing snakes and ladders when functioning in a relationship?
It need not be so. When you acknowledge that a partner’s contribution is more valuable at some time or in some situations, you are not getting swallowed by snakes. And if you have climbed one ladder, that is not the ultimate: someone else has climbed ladders too, and it does not end with one doing it faster than the other, because you do not run in a straight line. It is more like a cycle and what goes around, comes around.