Thursday, July 29th, 2021

R Shopper Columns


Interdependence is a relationship
where both partners rely on each other
so that neither one of us is one-up or one-down.

"Honey, would you help me clean the house?' she asked. Angrily, he slammed down his work report and stormed into the kitchen.

Taken back, she said, 'I didn't mean right this moment. I meant when you get a chance.' She was thinking out loud what needs to be done before the company arrives.

So why he is so angry?

He interpreted her to mean, 'Stop what you are doing immediately, because what you are doing is not as important as what I want you to do.' Of course, he is angry because he views her request as her trying to control him.

When he is going out with his friends, his partner will likely ask him to call home if he is going to be late. Some men may interpret this to mean, 'I have to check in with her and get permission.' It is seen as being dependent.

It may be interpreted as a loss of his independence.

Another scenario that is often misinterpreted by many of us is when our partner asks us to consult with her before purchasing something expensive. A typical male response, 'I make the money and I will spend it the way I please.' Women expect decisions to be discussed first and made by consensus. It is seen as evidence of her partner's involvement and communication. It is viewed by her as relying on each other.

When a woman asks the man to do something such as call her if he is going to be late or consult with her before buying something, he may interpret that as her trying to control him. 'Men avoid humiliating dependence by insisting on independence' (Tannen). Many of us may procrastinate to avoid feeling that we are following orders. It feels like we are doing it now out of our own free will.

Perhaps the problem is that many of us do not know
the difference between acts of caring and acts of control.

A question for us to consider is, 'What is the difference between independence, dependence and interdependence?'

Dependence is when one of us is going to be late and we call our partner and ask permission to stay out. It is an unequal, lopsided and disproportionate relationship. It is a one-up and one-down relationship.

Interdependence is a relationship where both partners rely on each other so that neither one of us is one-up or one-down. This means we call if we are going to be late because we do not want our spouse to worry, and we discuss what we are going to buy.

A friend of ours says that the way she handles the opening scenario so that her husband doesn't think she means 'do this immediately,' says, 'Sometime this week, would you mind helping me work on this project?'

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700