Does your Relationship Have a Hidden Agenda?


Have you ever stopped to think about your marriage or relationship and the original motivations for becoming a pair? Have you ever stepped back and said, “…hmm what was I thinking or why was my spouse appealing to me back then?”

We would all like to think that our nuptials signify purity and above all else–honesty. I, though, want to talk about relationships in terms of walking, breathing agendas that we all carry around—it is just that so few of us are willing to share them.

Maybe you began your relationship to spite your history of train wrecks or maybe you chose your partner because they were the opposite of your parent’s choice. Some of you might have had a list…and a man with a job, a spare tire and an excuse for every domestic request was just a part of that bucket list.

So many of us are sly. That is right…sly. We act one way during courtship and then do an about-face somewhere between the “I do’s” and, “What…we’re having a baby?” Agendas do not have to be wholeheartedly bad or negative or manipulative. Your agenda could be to be the best spouse, parent, friend, employee or boss there is. Others will present their agendas using morse code, winks, growls, uniquely placed books and do-dats that spark curiosity from their partner.

Sometimes agendas come from society, your friends, or television. Sometimes agendas can feel like they are closing in on you with no escape route in view. The pressure can be daunting to say the least. It can feel like no one understands the pressure you feel and nobody, especially your spouse, understands the long-term impact of such pressure.

Whose Agenda will Win out?

Men and women can often feel pressure to meet an agenda that the other has absolutely no idea exists. A man may be absolutely oblivious that his partner’s agenda includes kids at a certain age to meet her girlfriends requirements/peer pressure…she may be in the dark about his agenda at work that includes trophy-wife expectations and expensive suits to land the management position.

Agendas can kill a marriage. Agendas can make us feel less than. We can feel cheated by our spouse, our family, and friends. We can become accusatory and hateful when wronged by a perceived agenda and we can walk away wondering if we ever really knew our spouse.

So why is it that we hold our agendas so close to the vest? Because we all want to maintain a certain level of control for our current and future circumstances. If your spouse told you that you fit a need or a check-box on a list you might be mortified. Ben Stiller’s character in “Along Came Polly” wrote a little cost-benefit or should I say risk analysis to see which woman was better suited for his agenda which was to play it safe in life. Sounds corny when Hollywood tackles a very real-life marital issue, but the fact remains that agendas are a mainstay for most relationships.

Of course, the natural life-cycle of an agenda means that it will surface at some point in the relationship. Whether one is caught or openly shares their agenda…the couple can be impacted for the better or as agendas are publicized–for the worse. Infidelity is the most common of “dirty” agendas for the guys out there. Women, on the other hand, are often accused of having agendas that:

  1. Create a Domesticated Spouse
  2. Provide Children at a Specific Age
  3. Position the Family for Social Prominence

Now, of course, these are rooted in stereotypical renditions of the American Family this side of “Toddlers and Tiaras” on any reality network in this country. Do they have merit for either gender? Your guess is as good as mine. What I can tell you is that when I worked with couples…what would come up the most were their individual agendas and the failure of the other to lend credence to their wishes.  So many of these couples wanted the other to take part in what we call “2×4” therapy. They wanted the agenda “beaten” out of the other…figuratively speaking that is. They were tired of the game playing. They were tired of feeling like they were a mere character in their spouses self-written and directed play about themselves…I mean a narcissist…I mean themselves.

The news isn’t all bad…nor should it ever be when we think of the motivations and agendas that permeate our lives. Do our spouses and partners serve a purpose in our lives? Absolutely!

Hopefully for yourself and your relationship you have both grown and become better people because of the one you share your life with. Maybe your agenda in the beginning was borne out of a reaction to your family or life in general…but now it is a mutual agenda…dare I say plan…for mutual growth and admiration for the partners you have become.

Here’s to couples who aren’t afraid to share their hopes and dreams, their reality and their faults along the way without malice. If there ever was a human on this earth who would “cut you some slack”…let’s hope it is the one you call “Dear”.

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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1 Comment

Filed under Family, Marriage, men, Mothers, Relationships, Success Stories, women

One response to “Does your Relationship Have a Hidden Agenda?

  1. Pingback: Jake Pavelka…Just Followin His Heart « The Normal Male by Dr. Rod

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