October 24 - 30, 1987
Dr. Ruth to Maddie and David: The Way to Turn Your Battles to Bliss
Dr. Ruth Advises: David-Quit Your Job! Maddie-Stop Playing Games!
The ouspoken sex therapist tells Moonlighting's bickering twosome how to live happily ever after
So finally, after two years, David and Maddie have gone to bed together. Terrific! But can they find long-term happiness? That's something else.
It's obvious that they are very attracted to each other. And they have that two-year history, which suggests they both have a vested interest in the relationship. They find each other challenging. That's good! And they can talk to each other. But what bothers me is the way that they talk. They are constantly hurting each other, constantly in competition. The first thing David should do, if he wants the relationship to last, is quit the detective agency and find another job. He should not be in competition with the woman he loves.
But Maddie also has to change. Right now she's putting him in a double-bind. One minute she's saying, " Let's forget what happened between us," and two seconds later she's flirting and showing how much she desires him. That kind of behavior is going to drive him to distraction. If he were in therapy with me, I would tell him, "Drop her. Go and find yourself a woman who doesn't play these kinds of games."
I know that he is playing games, too-deflecting intimate questions and turning everything into a joke-but he is doing that to protect himself. He's afraid of getting hurt. I would tell him he has to be stronger with her.
And now we find out that Maddie is pregnant. This, to me, is very upsetting. In the first place, it was irresponsible for them not to use contraceptives. But there may have been something else at work here; maybe she really wanted a baby. She's at that age, in her mid-30's, when many women feel the pressure of time. If so, I find her irresponsible for not first choosing a man to marry and then getting pregnant.
In fact, she had two men, Sam, the astronaut, and her partner, David; and she may not be sure which of them is the father. In that case, she shouldn't marry either one. I don't think she can love either of them if, during a short period of time, she can be with both. And to marry, just so that the baby can have a father, would be disastrous. The marriage would end in divorce. It would be better for her to be a single mother and raise the child by herself. Or perhaps she should ask her mother to help.
But Maddie is not a victim, and I mostly blame her for the muddle she is in. If Sam really was so arrogant, as she says, to "waltz in here after all these years and stake your claim like I was a piece of real estate," then she was right to reject his marriage proposal. But why did she permit the relationship to develop so far? Why did it take her so long to decide?
As to her first sexual encounter with David, that too raises questions, particularly about the kind of relationship they can expect to have in the future. I'm concerned about the argument they had. David says, "We are here. The two of us. Together. Isn't that what this is all about?" And she answers: "No, that's not what this is all about. This is about me. This is supposed to be about what I want. I was the one proposed to…I'm not leaving him for you. I'm leaving him for me. Me! Me-me-me-me-me!"
I have to say I agree with David. This is about "the two of us." She seems to me very selfish. It doesn't surprise me that we almost never see her with any close friends, whether women or men. She's just too self-centered. Ms. DiPesto, for instance, the Blue Moon receptionist, is clearly not an equal. She's a servant, even a serf.
After Maddie's little speech, David gets up and starts to walk out, as he is perfectly right to to. But it seems to me a bad sign that he needs to hurl insults at her as he goes. She runs after him and slaps him, and they then make love. If violence is necessary for them to get together, then they shouldn't be together-especially now that there is going to be a baby in the picture. Even if this kind of behavior heightens their excitement, it creates a very destructive atmosphere for a baby to grow up in.
David and Maddie are themselves babies, emotionally. Each wants his own way, and neither has learned the elementary rules of give and take in a relationship. If they got married now, without modifying their behavior, the child could easily find itself a source of contention, even an emotional bargaining chip, between them. Nothing could be worse.
Suppose, though, that Maddie decides that she truly loves David after all and is now ready to settle down with him. And suppose David is willing, despite his fragile male ego, to ignore the question of the child's paternity and to marry Maddie. That sense of mutual commitment is the all-important first step.
The next step is to sit down with a therapist, either myself or someone else who is strong enough not to put up with their nonsense. This is essential, because it's obvious that David and Maddie are not fully aware of the pain that they inflict on each other. They need to be made aware of what they're doing and adapt to each other's needs. This doesn't mean changing their personalities-no one can do that-but it means lowering their ego levels by several thousand feet, dismantling their emotional fortifications and installing more sensitive listening devices in each other's hears.
Even with the baby coming, I still think that David should get a different job, to minimize the career competition between him and Maddie. Or Maddie could stay home with the baby and let David run the agency! If given a chance, I think David could surprise everyone. He may pose as a swinging, cynical single, but he's the kind who can become very loving, very warm.
If he's not certain that it's his baby, of course, the old defensive behavior patterns could return. But the question of paternity doesn't have to be an insurmountable obstacle. Suppose David and Maddie decide to get married. My strong advice to them is that, as soon as possible after the baby is born, Maddie should have a second child. Just make sure that the first child never feels rejected.
Who knows, David and Maddie might end up with a whole brood of little Addisons and convert the detective agency into a child-modeling agency. They may even learn the difference between snappy dialogue and cutting remarks. And they may come to see that commitment is a lot more exciting than antagonism. Now that would be really terrific.
Dr. Ruth Westheimer
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