This is a loaded question, and one that I frequently hear in various forms from clients in therapy:
* Do other couples have this problem?
* Am I normal?
* Is there something wrong with us?
* Can we recover?
* Why can’t my partner act like other (ie, normal) people do?
Sometimes this question about “being normal” comes in the form of statements:
* We must be the hardest couple you’ve ever had to deal with!
* There’s something wrong with him!
* This is not normal.
* She’s so emotional.
* He never talks.
* We just don’t seem happy like other people.
So how do you answer this question of whether or not you are “normal”? Is this a question you have ever wondered about yourself or your relationship? If you are being honest with yourself, you probably have had that thought before…… This is because, especially when we are experiencing problems in our relationships, we have a tendency to make comparisons to others. When we’re not feeling good about ourselves, we look to others to see if they experience the same problems – when we see that they do, it is reassuring because we know what is happening to us is normal. Our problems still don’t feel good, but we can take a sigh of relief and know that at least we’re not WEIRD!
The problem, however, is that most people don’t tend to show or talk about their problems. In our society especially we are encouraged to “put on a good face,” and admitting that you have problems is often considered to be a sign of weakness. While I don’t think everyone needs to be walking around a blubbering mess all the time, being able to accept and communicate openly with those you trust about difficult life issues is the healthiest way of handling problems.
So back to the question of being normal. My answer is:
It’s normal to feel not normal!
Everyone has problems. Every relationship has problems. Sometimes those problems are big and complicated and involve issues you don’t want ANYONE else to know about. Sometimes you feel alone, looking around you, thinking no one could possibly understand what you are going through. It makes sense that sometimes you would feel not normal.
The important thing to remember is that everyone feels this way sometimes. It’s okay.
Therapists at the Salt Lake Relationship Center provide excellent feedback about what is “normal” in relationships or other life issues. Please contact us or schedule an appointment today! We look forward to speaking with you.