For the past few months, I have been rehearsing, and now performing, Neil Simon's The Dinner Party at The Village Players Theatre. The play, which is set in Paris, is about the complexity of relationships. 6 individuals are invited to a dinner party not knowing who the other guests will be, but soon find themselves face-to-face with their ex-spouses. As you might guess, tempers flare and old wounds are reopened.
I find that every show I work on teaches me something that I can bring back to my school counseling program. In this case, I can better understand why relationships of all kinds go wrong. Many of our students come from divorced households and come to us for answers, which we can't always provide. Sometimes, personalities change, people change. Children, unfortunately, have no say in what happens, so they must be flexible and "go with the flow" as their parents make all of the decisions - decisions that affect more than just their adult relationships.
My husband and I were discussing The Dinner Party after he had a chance to see it. We began to analyze the flaws of not just each relationship, but each character as well. When we arrived at my character (Mariette Levieux), I found myself coming to her defense. I even started raising my voice - "What?! She was supportive!" Once I realized what I was doing, we both laughed. I was too entrenched in Mariette's point-of-view that I had a hard time admitting her own faults...and she's fictional!
As school counselors, we need to teach our students how to self-reflect and take a breath before jumping into an argument. We have the right to feel how we feel, but just because we're hurting doesn't mean that the other person isn't hurting as well. Relationships, regardless of their nature, are not one-sided. We must understand who we are in order to function well in a friendship or, in this case, marriage.