Pick up the dropped stitches of relationship; this Insight has a back story. In 2017 I was in Africa and had a fall and broke my arm in 3 places, near the wrist. Just in case you are wondering, I wasn’t doing anything dangerous with elephants or lions – just the local Park Run in the little town of Prince Albert. In order to hasten recovery, I took up knitting. As a beginner knitter, I made a lot of mistakes. One of the mistakes I did a lot, was dropping stitches, what with my broken wrist. I still make a lot of mistakes!
So how is this related to relationships? A dropped stitch means that the work won’t hold together, and it is actually unravelling, right there in the middle somewhere. When the knitting is simple, just ‘knit’ and ‘purl’ it is not so hard to spot the dropped stitch. But if I’m knitting a pattern, which is probably way above my skill level anyway, then I get very confused about where the dropped stitch is, and what to do about it. This sounds very much like problems in a relationship when you lose sight of them, but they are still there creating hidden havoc.
If the dropped stitch is only a row or two down, then picking it up and proceeding is relatively simple – apart from the pattern. But if is it 10, 20, or even 30 rows down, oh horror, what to do? The joy of knitting vanishes, and with it the pleasure of working with this glorious coloured and textured yarn.
I can’t tell you how often in my work with couples that they miss the real problem. They think the dropped stitch is in a different place entirely. It is absolutely no use fixing a problem that isn’t there.
Identifying the problem is the first step towards repairs. Focussing on the specifics of the dropped stitch will tell me what to do. I need to understand the situation thoroughly before I attempt ANY repair. (I’ve actually made repairs that proved more of a problem than the original situation! Rookie error!)
There’s no point in pulling all the knitting undone! Don’t dismantle your entire relationship – just fix the broken bit. When you experience pain in your relationship, the pain – which might be about 10% of your relationship, can seem so overwhelming that you think that the whole relationship is rocky. Remind yourselves of the bits that are going fine – just as I can look at the knitting project as a whole and see that most of it is actually really beautiful.
Don’t get side-tracked into discussing other issues, or solving every problem you’ve ever had as a couple. You are after one “dropped stitch,” one relationship glitch.
Do I need to get someone else to look at this, someone who knows more about knitting? Sometimes you need to call in the expert before you do more damage! Perhaps, if I just settle down my anxiety around the dropped stitch, will it become clear what to do? A related Insight is “Increase you window of tolerance”.
Sometimes we make good-intentioned attempts to repair our relationship but we are trying to repair the wrong part.
You know where I am going with this. Knitting is like relationships. Dropped stitches happen: we miss cues on when and how to communicate with our partner. Or we don’t fess up when we have not lived up to our values. Perhaps cross words settle in to unravel a perfectly good relationship. Perhaps one really, really vindictive fight is what you are preoccupied with. Then fix that. Find different ways to look at it. Really listen to what your partner has complained about.
Making repairs, going back to tend to the dropped stitches/opportunities, is ALWAYS worthwhile. Although it is harder the further back in the work/relationship they are. The sooner you spot the dropped stitches, the more accurately you name them, the earlier both you and your partner pick up the stitch, the sooner your relationship will be back knitting up a storm. Speaking of storms, read “Turbulence: attend to relationship storms when they first appear.“
I’m truly disappointed when to spend a lot of time going back over my knitting to find the problem and correct it. But pretending nothing is wrong will not make the dropped stitch go away. Denial never works. Sooner or later the flaw in your relationship will show up. And unlike knitting, I can’t put my dropped-stitch ridden relationship in a cupboard and forget about it. Not if I care about my partner.
Copyright © Kaye Gersch 2018