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  • richardharkness33

Deal with little grievances to avoid long term relationship trouble

“By regularly voicing our small sorrows and minor irritations we are scraping the barnacles of our keel of our relationship and thereby ensuring that we will sail on with continued joy and admiration into an authentic and unresentful future”

- Alain de Botton — The Therapeutic Journey

With a quote like that to start off I may as well shut my laptop lid and be done with it because how do I follow on from that?

Firstly I greatly admire Alain de Botton. I think he is one of my favourite deep thinkers today and has such a fantastic soothing way with words. I could read him endlessly. Sitting in the morning sun with this book and a coffee is my current morning ritual. Heaven.

All boat owners know the blight of barnacles. Resilient little buggers they are hard to remove but failure to do so has serious effects if left unchecked.

They cause increased resistance in the water and greater consumption of fuel.

They add weight to the boat again increasing fuel consumption and handling.


Ultimately they can even damage the hull.

Which to my mind even further deepens Alain’s analogy.


Unchecked upsets can cause resistance between partners. We are less willing to be generous of our time and our hearts when others have slighted us.

The connection in the relationship becomes heavy and cumbersome. Every transaction becomes suspicious and guarded. We question the very meaning of simple sentences and look for hidden agendas and meanings when most often there simply wasn’t one. 

Eventually so much damage is done the relationship ruptures and the wave of unexpressed emotion rushes in. But it’s too late. It’s overwhelming for both and the relationship is sinking.

The best both parties can do is bail out before it takes it down with them. 

Begin by expressing regularly together the smaller things that have been upsetting each other and the feelings that have arisen for us.

If we express things by only speaking about what we felt happened and how we it is much less likely to evoke a strong reaction than if we assert they did this or that and this is how they feel.

If you really want to annoy your partner nothing is more effective than telling them how they feel. 

It’s not too late if you’ve already relationship troubles.

If you’re new to a relationship make it a habit sooner rather than later. 

I wish you smooth sailing and fair seas. 

hull of a boat with barnacles attached

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