We know couples who contend they can talk to each other about “anything.” My husband Olof agrees that’s the way relationships ought to be, so long as you never actually do it.
Now, keep in mind that Olof is hardly a curmudgeonly undemonstrative kind of guy. He’s out-going, universally liked (which I find very annoying), incredibly kind, and has a great sense of humor. Actions, he maintains, speak louder than words. OK, but as I’ve pointed out to him on more than a few occasions, sometimes words would come in really handy.
Whole industries involved with the world of psychology completely baffle him. It’s not that he is against psychotherapy per se; he’s just puzzled why anyone would do it. In his personal view, if one has a problem, one mulls. One ponders. One might even create a flow chart. No, one especially creates a flow chart. One certainly doesn’t pay after-tax dollars to some charlatan with a pseudo degree in what he refers to as the squishy sciences to engage in – we’ve come full circle now – sharing of Too Much Information.
After we had a devastating encounter with a drunk driver on I-5 a few years ago and I recovered from injuries enough to begin driving in my replacement car, I could barely bring myself to drive down the street. It didn’t help that seconds into my first actual foray around town, some jerk coming the other way on La Jolla Boulevard made a sudden U-turn in front of me barely avoiding a major collision. (Where is one’s 9 millimeter Glock when one needs it?) Some people, when they fall off a horse, climb right back on. Others of us develop a life-long fear of equines.
So I did the only reasonable thing. I hired a cognitive therapist who actually drove around with me in spite of my absolute 100% conviction that we were both going to die. Now, Olof was certainly aware of my difficulties driving. I got a lot of extra hugs in that era. But in Olof Land, one looks fear in the face and refuses to be defeated by it. And one certainly STOPS TALKING ABOUT IT. I had landed firmly on the wrong side of Olof’s TMI line.
I didn’t mention my new driving companion to Olof although he must have known. (See “after-tax dollars,” above.) If he had asked, I certainly would have been happy to discuss it. Which, of course, is exactly what he was trying to avoid at all costs. I know he wouldn’t have begrudged me any help that the quacks could explicably provide although I am sure that he thought if I would just get in the damn car and drive, we could cut the witch doctor out of the equation.
As far as he was concerned, we absolutely adhered to the “we can talk about anything” philosophy. But he’s just really glad we didn’t. Sometimes illusion is everything.