Relationship Advice and Columns

The Elephant in the Room

Every relationship is non-monogamous. This is a controversial statement, to be sure, but let me explain. Even in a relationship with only 2 people involved and where neither of them have other partners, there is a 3rd figure: the relationship itself. Each person in the couple contributes their time, energy, emotions, resources of all types, as well as so many other things, so that the relationship itself stays afloat. We might speak of people doing things for the sake of their partner, but we can also say that people contribute toward the dynamic itself. I remember when Ben told me that an act can be committed because someone had previously done something and an act can be committed for the sake of partnership. Not all acts can be so altruistic, but I think that every person in a relationship acts to keep the dynamic as dynamic as it could be.

Unfortunately, because of gender conditioning, women are often taught to contribute a lot toward their relationship, even in a situation where they get nothing back. What I have observed is that many men act as if they value their relationships less and will do less for relationship’s sake, even if they need the relationship more (if we are speaking of heterosexual couples). I have been in that position several times and it doesn’t feel great when you feel like you’re doing more than your partner. In a sense, I feel like I learn from my mother because she has done, and continues to do, so much for me and I have watched her do so much for her various partners. However, there is a positive side to all this: I do feel like I get back a lot, so it usually feels like it’s worth it. For those of you out there who find yourself in a situation where you feel like you’re doing too much or you want to do more, talk to your partner. Communication can help a lot.

At the beginning of last week, Ben and I had some very difficult conversations, somewhat related to this topic. There are things he does that I would like to be different. One thing in particular has caused me some pain: there have been times where he misinterprets what I say or thinks that there are a myriad of things behind the statement that I’m either unaware of or just don’t say. Over the years, I have become ever more careful about what I say. I used to blurt out whatever came into my head and I realized that that wasn’t always a good thing. Because of that, I’ve become more mindful of the words I use. I’m also a fairly direct person, so I say what I mean. However, women are often taught to communicate indirectly and I do have to fight that sometimes. I acknowledge that sometimes, there are things I’m hiding and there have been times where I was honest and I given flack for it. In my close relationships though, I want to be honest because I know I won’t be punished by people who understand me.

Thus, Ben and I both have things to work on and I acknowledge that I want to accept him more for who he is. We were afraid that all of those difficult conversations could lead to us not getting married, but we also realize that what we have is so valuable. Even when things are tough, we still want to be together and we have to remember that good times will always come back. I sincerely hope that 2016 will include many of them, for myself, Ben, and all of you dear readers!

If you have a relationship question, email me at  Thank you as always for reading!

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One thought on “The Elephant in the Room

  1. Lola Y. on said:

    Hi Miriam! This post reminded me of something I’m currently reading that you might like. A friend of mine posted it and there is a lot of interesting discussion about Emotional Labour. I’m still very new to the concept and finding it very enlightening.


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