The subject of baseball may seem odd for a blog subject on a Marriage and Family Therapy website. However, baseball has been on my mind the last week because our Kansas City Royals were playing in the World Series. My husband and I lived in Kansas City for about ten years and attend all the Royals games we could. That included the 1985 season when they were last in the World Series. Last night our Royals lost to the San Francisco Giants. So are they losers? Do you feel that you lose in your relationships or are you always the winner?
Many times in my couples work and in my work with other relationships, we discuss winning and losing. We all want to be a winner. No one wants to lose. The problem is, when you win all the time, someone else loses. My comment to clients who are at this stalemate is “You can win all the time or you can be marriage.” That might sound simplistic but it is very true. If you insist on winning every discussion or argument with anyone, the relationship will not hold up, simple because no one wants to lose all the time. Losing all the time builds resentment.
Recently, I was having a conversation with a couple who were dealing with issues of resentment. It was apparent to me that the wife had taken on the role of being the winner in the relationship. She made all the decisions and her idea of compromise was to detach from her husband, withhold her affection and withdraw when she did let him have any input into any area of their marriage. This would further convince him that even when he won a small victory, he felt like he lost.
However, there are several other important elements to the win/loss dilemma. First, many people in relationships have learned that when they are a winner and get there way in the relationship that it mean taken on responsibility for the outcome. It is much easier for them to be the victim and set back complaining about how unfair their spouse is because they never win. Second, often a partner may have quilt about winning because they were raised in a family of origin where they were told that if you express yourself, get your own way or do something for yourself that you are selfish. This is a very difficult problem to overcome but it is important to do for many reasons. The other partner is shouldering all the responsibility for making all the decisions and this can also build resentment. They feel that they do not have the support of their partner and have to be the adult in the relationship.
So, are the Royals losers? They did lose the series. However, they won a lot of games; they succeed and earn the chance to participate in the World Series. No, they are not in a relationship with their opponents, however, they can’t win every game and neither can the Giants as well demonstrated the night before when the score was 10 – 0. Besides, how much fun would it be to go see a team play that never ever lost?