Your Relationship is your Greatest Asset
What?? No escalator, no lift, just 40 steps and 4 suitcases weighing 20 kilos. Each.
We are in London, one of the world’s biggest cities. We’re exhausted and taxis are unavailable. It's the day of a big sporting event and cyclists have taken over the city. It’s been a 24-hour journey from Australia to see our son who is studying here. We haven’t slept, our feet are aching and we're cranky. The temperature swelters at 30 degrees celsius and we brought all the wrong clothes.
"I thought London was cold?"
“I just want to lie down!”
The thought of a pillow on a park bench seems more attractive to me by the minute.
The tube is our only alternative and there is only one way down. Us and the bags. We share the load.
After a precarious and exhausting descent, we end up underground, on the tube, sandwiched between people who try not to stare at our bulging baggage. (Normal people carry smaller bags.) On the journey I think about all the people round the world dragging around heavy bags with wheels. Encumbered.
Arriving at our son's apartment block we are confronted with more stairs. Four narrow, winding flights. Again, no lift.
I sit on one of the bags and cry.
Ten minutes later, we haul the suitcases up one bag at a time, bumping into each other, tripping on the stairs. A dog barks incessantly on level 2. “Shut up tiger” yells his owner.
The apartment has all the ailments of student living: blocked sinks, sloping floors, cramped spaces and resident cockroaches. We put our suitcases down on the wooden floorboards and they roll to one side of the room. I feel like I am on a ship.
“Did you need all this stuff?” remarks our son.
Christian and I just look at each other. (Half of it is for him anyway.)
I am reminded of a talk Christian gives about how we all drag around baggage from our past: childhood experiences, hurts, past relationships.
He talks about how baggage from the past can clutter up your relationship now. Couples deal with it differently. Baggage can be the elephant in the room that never gets talked about or it can be the issue that is brought up in every argument, even, subtly, as a weapon against the other person.
There are two principles to keep in mind for dealing with baggage.
Firstly, recognise that the relationship isn’t the problem; the problem is the problem.
Secondly, whatever the baggage is, share the load. It is not “what are you going to do with this baggage” but “what are we going to do?”
Christian picks up one of my bags to move it.
“Don’t open that”
There are things in there I just don’t want him to see.
There is some baggage from the past that takes a while to unpack and share.
“Is it OK if we put it over here?” he says.
He lifts the bag gently and places it in the corner.
I know when we leave that we are going to have to take those bags down the stairs again. Fortunately, we’ll be able to get a taxi. But somewhere between here and the airport, there’ll be a whole lot of schlepping of heavy bags. And, as always, Christian and I will have to share the load.
Welcome to our blog. Each blog contains an insight into your relationship and how to mend or grow it drawn from Christian's 18 years of clinical experience working in psychiatry. They are told as stories. The central ideas are in bold. All the pictures are originals. We post every fortnight and would love to hear your comments. Looking forward to travelling with you in this amazing journey called life.