Allegedly this set of cartoons represents how the she feels about her marriage. I find this one particularly interesting. One way to read it is that the more time he spends in the bathroom, the more she resents him. Another is that the more she resents him, the more time he spends in the bathroom.

I would like to think that people don’t resent their partners like this. I’ve been married almost 30 years, and we’ve had our problems, but not systematic dysfunction like this. At least I don’t think so.

Does this really represent how people view their spouse? Why stay married?

@jerry Because breakups are hard and deep-down it's not clear if you can really do better for a partner or would really enjoy being single compared to just having a roommate you kinda fancy

@jerry Happens, for sure. Because extracting yourself from that situation can be emotionally, financially, and socially very difficult.

@jerry There's a concept in interpersonal dynamics called "punctuation". If you have a dynamic like this:

- You do A, so I respond with B
- You do B, so I respond with A

then it can be represented as


but one person may "punctuate" it as [A->B]->[A->B] ("it started with A, I'm just reacting to that") and the other as [B->A]->[B->A] ("it started with B, I'm just reacting to *that*").

But it doesn't actually matter, it's just a vicious cycle, and while both reactions might be understandable it's incumbent upon the pair to recognize the cycle and figure out how to break it, one way or another.

@jerry But breaking out of patterns like that (and other problematic dynamics) takes humility, a feeling of psychological safety, effort, and even just the time required to talk these things through (and maybe the money to pay a couple's counselor). For a variety of reasons, not everyone has all those things.

One thing that strikes me about all of those comics is the extent to which the conflicts are traditional male/female role inequalities, driven by a combination of biology and culture. It's embarrassing and a bit upsetting when I see it in my own relationship, especially since we've actively worked on countering it. I think this is going to be one of the root causes you'll find in relationship conflicts in general.

(I suspect that also means there's a decent chance that switching to a different partner won't help, unless you filter for a person who is committed to working on these problems.)

@jerry I'm also not sure that their relationship *is* all that dysfunctional? There's a good chance she's just playing up some of their difficulties for laffs, and they actually work on this stuff.

@varx @jerry maybe I'm reading too much into a causal relationship, but if the guy is escaping to the bathroom to dodge resentment (thus causing resentment to increase) then that's a pretty toxic dynamic. Something is being avoided.

I mean maybe he just has IBS. Who knows.

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