Giving up is easy.
And that’s exactly what a lot of folks will suggest for pop culture’s favorite odd couple, Blac Chyna (born Angela Renee White) and Rob Kardashian. I suggest they consider fighting it out, and not physically, emotionally. Anyone who has watched their reality show Rob & Chyna can tell that each of these individuals is grappling with some very deep but common issues.
I’ll start with Rob. Most folks look at him and see a person crumbling underneath the weight of fame — but lets consider the other options. You have a young man who grew up in a large and unconventional family, lost his biological father as a teenager and has an ambitious/controlling mother. Rob was able to thrive in structured environments such as school, sports and even college, but once it was time for him to be on his own depression hit. This isn’t simply a case of a poor little rich kid; we’re dealing with a real man who never had a chance to address issues of loss, or develop self-esteem.
Then we have Blac Chyna, a woman who grew up sans her mother and father as primary caregivers. She learned to rely her wits and body to escape inner-city poverty, and as a source of empowerment. And despite the whirlwind changes in her personal and professional life, she is haunted by issues of abandonment (understandable since her parents were teens and unable to provide a home base), anger management (showing emotional and physical aggression when hurt) and control.
Oh yeah, and there is that elephant in the room: Most folks believe these two started dating simply to wreak havoc on the Kardashian clan (Rob is accused of being mad at his siblings and Chyna was thought to be seeking revenge against the Kardashian’s youngest sister Kylie Jenner, who is dating her ex-fiance). The argument then becomes that the core of the relationship is rotten because it didn’t start with the best intentions.
With all of this drama, why should they work on this relationship?
The fact is that a lot of couples are dealing with some very heavy mess. Take away the cameras and the cash, and you have two trauma victims. A dude who likely never really dealt with the death of his dad, and a woman who was devastated by the absenteeism of her parents and the hardships of living below the poverty line. Both developed maladaptive coping mechanisms to anxiety and depression: He gets small and hides. She gets big and explodes.
But neither are children anymore. In fact, they have kids, so the question becomes what are they willing to do the make the relationship work? For themselves. Their little ones. Sanity. Drama makes good TV but not such a great life. If Rob and Chyna really want to give little King and Dream a stable home they must come up with some better coping skills. All they need to do to start is make a plan — and it has to be their own.
Here are a few things they can consider doing:
A few reports indicate that the couple’s arguments have gotten physical. This has to absolutely come to hard a stop — on both sides. Pushing, mushing or slaps can easily escalate into a serious altercation. Anger can cause one to use more force than they expect; tussling can lead to accidents and fatal falls; a hit in the wrong place can kill someone. Neither party should hit the other. Take it seriously.
Decide you want to put healthy parenting first
There is a switch that clicks on when you make a decision that you want something in your life. The same muscle that makes you hustle for any goal — a gig, graduating, etc. — can be used to push yourself towards self-control and be utilized to create better coping skills. This doesn’t mean that you are perfect. This does mean that you are shifting the lens that filters your choices. Every time you’re about to blow a fuse, think about how far it takes you away from creating the life you want for you and your children. Is having the last word that important? Is giving up on finding the win/win worth it? Is this behavior I something I want my children emulating?
Ban that one word or phrase that really hurts
You don’t have to curse at someone to get under his or her skin. Everyone has a button that really hits at the core of his or her insecurity. You are friends, lovers and co-parents. Make a commitment to opt-out of “destroy mode” when you argue since this person will be in your life forever and… you actually love them. Each person can pick that one thing that the other shouldn’t say — and respect it.
Say the “It”
Everyone has that “thing” that, if they are willing to be courageously honest, crushed or changed them in some way. It can be something big such as being sexually assaulted or more nuanced, like a specific argument you witnessed between your parents. Whatever the moment was, it made something click in you, caused you to make a decision about who you were/weren’t going to be and is the source of a trauma. Talking about it will help you determine how to apply the lessons from that moment in a better way.
Work on your ish
Everyone has at least one thing that even their friends complain about. Be honest with yourself and decide what you are realistically willing to do to make that a bit better. For motivation, focus on how it will make you and your little ones happier.
Create a “don’t do it” list
It’s okay to be upset, but it important to acknowledge and work on the coping mechanisms that we know are destructive. A good indicator of what is over the top is how you feel after the behavior. If you experience a significant amount of shame, embarrassment and regret after an action your instincts are telling you that your choice was wrong. The goal is to get rid of extremely maladaptive behaviors that hurt your relationship, and create ways to express your anger without undermining the feelings of emotional security partners need to grow. So what are some things that cause crater size holes in the emotional foundation of a relationship? Kicking folks out. Disappearing. Demeaning language. Treat your relationship with the same consideration you’d treat a house you’ve purchased and plan to live in for the long haul. Give it the best.
Establish a family plan
Your team’s goals don’t have to focus on finances and vacations. Think about the energy and atmosphere you want to create in your home. How do you want to feel when you walk through the door? What do you want your kids to say when they reflect on their childhood? Write down the vibe you want to create then a list of rules that you know are needed to make it manifest. Make it your family’s mantra.
S. Tia Brown is EBONY’s Lifestyle Director, a licensed therapist, and believes in love and the promise that it gives. Reach out @tiabrowntalks.