I don't really play chess, I'm more of a backgammon girl, but I was pondering relationships and friendships during a blissfully quiet car ride recently. Tom & I were talking about some old friends and recent events that have caused some pretty major rifts in the friendship we all share. I was considering how adults in relationships, be it marriage or some other state of commitment, often act as "checks" to prevent one another from spinning out of control when situations become stressful. You know how you can witness your beloved getting amped up when circumstances are challenging and how often your role during these occasions is to keep your partner reasonable and rational rather than encouraging them to go off the rails? Or how when one half of a team is heading towards a level of self-centeredness (of epic proportions), their partner can interject a sense of perspective that causes a new consideration of all of the involved parties and their own individual circumstances? I kind of think of these occasions as opportunities to "check" your mate and it seems to me that this exercise in grounding is a component of most successful relationships.
I was thinking about adults who have never been in a long term (5+ years) relationship ("relationship" can include parenting) and I believe their lack of a "check-mate" somehow prevents them from every really seeing and understanding an alternate perspective on a situation. If you continually fly solo how can you ever truly understand that you are not the center of the universe? If all you think you have to consider are your own needs and desires, conflict is naturally bound to occur when someone else's considerations are introduced to the mix, right?
I know that my husband will indulge me in a myriad of ways, but when (note I didn't say "if?") I go too far in any direction he is always there to point me to a better (better for me, better for us, just better) direction. And we both continually work to make our boys aware of both the way their behavior impacts others, and the fact that everyone has their own issues to resolve.
Adults who have not had the benefit of a "check mate," and who have not independently developed a sense of perspective regarding their own importance, make me want to scream "game over."
image from http://storij.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/checkmate_bubba73_at_en_wikipedia.jpg