Friday, April 3, 2015


This story is an exercise in dynamics of control in relationships. This actually happened to someone I know, so I reproduce her story here, names changed. It's a simple story, and is probably rather harmless, but the implications--once magnified and taken to an extreme circumstance--can be dangerous to a relationship.

The questions to ask are, what is the real desire behind why a man would do this? For control? To not feel controlled by the woman's requests in "her domain"? To teach a lesson about life? Or to not care that she could be harmed.

Read the story... then you decide...


Tamara always put the silverware with the handles down in the dish drainer, but not the sharp knives... she always put them with the sharp point down and the handles sticking up so no one would get hurt if they were reaching in to get the silverware.

But Brett always put all the silverware with the handles down, including the sharp knives.

Tamara warned Brett that this was a dangerous practice, so showed him to put the sharp blade of the knives facing downward. She said, "I have to reach over the silverware every day to get my water glass and I almost cut my forearm the other day because the knife was sticking up. Can you please point them down?"

Brett said, "You simply need to pay attention to what you are doing. Life has things we need to watch out for, so pay attention so you know what you're doing at all times. Just be more careful."

Tamara thought it was unwise to ignore something dangerous and possibly put others in danger, and why should she have to take extra care every single time she reaches over the dish drainer to grab her water glass, which she does numerous times a day? Instead, turn the knife downward the first time and it saves time and effort and possible issues later.

Time passed, and Tamara mentioned the knife situation again, but Brett kept putting the sharp knives facing straight up when he would help with dishes.

One day, Tamara was busy cooking and realized she had not drank water for several hours, so she reached over to grab her water glass, but a knife was sticking up at just the right angle and it cut a scratch into her forearm near her elbow between two and three inches long, which bled, not to mention hurt.

Tamara was disgusted. She had not learned Brett's lesson about being careful every single time about the knives.

But another lesson she learned was not that she was just not being extra careful, but that she shouldn't have to in her own home. Home should be a place of comfort and safety, away from the dangers of the outside world. Her environment was hers to control, not be controlled by. The kitchen was her domain, yet somehow she had not had any control over this knife issue.

Was she wrong in not taking care every time she wanted water to drink? Was she being selfish?

She didn't think so; the real lesson in her mind now was that Brett had not cared about her. He would rather be right about his own position on the knife being up so he did not have to go to the extra effort to be mindful and point it down, she thought. He was more interested in being right than taking care of her and ensuring her safety.

Brett hurt Tamara, in her view, because he refused to do what she had asked, since it was a safety issue. Yet she did not mention this to him because she knew he would just cause him to yell at her and say something like, "See, I told you to be careful! But you don't listen. You don't pay attention," like times he had said before to her about other things.

Perhaps he was right, too, and it was her own laziness in not wanting or feeling the need to double-check for knives every time. Perhaps she wouldn't have gotten hurt (by the knives or by his attitude) if she would have simply paid more attention each time.

Does this HAVE to be my life with Brett? she thought... will she constantly have to be on the defense with him and watch out for his sharp points that can and will hurt her? Simply because he refuses to care for her by putting away his sharpness so she can feel safe?

Ultimately Tamara found a different way to solve the problem... she simply put her water glass on the opposite side of the counter after that, away from the dish drainer, and away from Brett's upward facing knives.

Tamara pondered if avoiding Brett would follow, in order to save herself from being hurt.



Which is the more important life lesson... realizing that life can hurt you and to be careful at every turn, to be aware of everything around you? Or realizing that people can harm you and that perhaps we sometimes need to be careful of their own "sharpness" that can "cut" instead?

In this case, Tamara found another way out... but is it indicative of her ultimately just finding a solution somewhere else so she didn't have to deal with a man who would rather see her risk harming herself than to actually care about her welfare MORE than being right?

I guess one has to ask if putting her in harms way was really worth the lesson he was trying to "teach" her... in Tamara's eyes, she merely learned that Brett represented the knive that could cut her.

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