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By David, inspired by ALL One

Learn a standard way to solve relationship problems, from Night Court!

Some background about "Night Court"

The following makes use of an episode from Night Court. This particular episode was written to help people learn how to solve relationship problems. While this episode focuses in on a married couple, the same lessons apply to many, most, or maybe even all other relationships.

Wikipedia wrote: "Night Court is an American TV situation comedy that aired on NBC from January 4, 1984 to May 31, 1992. The setting was the night shift in a New York municipal court, Criminal Court Part 2, presided over by a young, unorthodox judge, Harold T. "Harry" Stone."

NightCourt.Wikia.com wrote this about Harry: "His zany antics and goofball sense of humor were tempered by infinite compassion and sincere belief that everyone had good in them. Harry could be a little self-righteous at times, but more often than not was the moral compass of the show."

Harry deals with many cases involving problems between two or more people. Harry acts as a mediator and tries to help the people work out their problems.

Personal note about "Night Court"

Now before posting this page, I had to think for a while if I should post it, since while the show had many very good life messages in them, there was also some poor role modeling by the characters. Since I currently believe that role models can potentially have a very huge impact on people, for example due to the mirror neurons, it made the decision to post this episode more complicated. However, given the educational value of the content of this episode, I've decided to include this post. May I suggest that you take the lesson in this episode, and leave the rest?

I believe the show included poor role models for at least a couple of key reasons.

  • To directly communicate moral messages. The cast would often call one another out when something was said or done incorrectly.
  • To indirectly communicate moral messages. You would hear the audience sigh when something bad happened, or you would feel bad for some of the characters as you watched some of the episodes. They would bring to light how some people are not always loving to each other. It's all too well known that in some cases, people can be cruel, and sometimes they may not even realize it. The prime example is how they (the primary characters in the show) often treated "Bull" who was the bailiff in the show. They would often make fun of Bulls "limited capacity" (Wikipedia called it "dim-witted"). And they would do that in a group setting. But Bull was actually very gentle and compassionate, and in some episodes showed amazing memory skills and logic. I found it obvious that the episodes were written this way to help people realize how wrong it was to "make fun" of other people (you could feel bad as that happened to Bull), and how that kind of behavior can be sadly encouraged as a group (part of group behavior). However, maybe some viewers may not understand the "hidden" message and think that it's ok to treat people that way, or misunderstand that the show was simply trying to point out this inappropriate group behavior.
  • To help you realize that all people are human and make mistakes.
  • The "characteristics" of the cast were designed to make it easy for some people to "relate" to the cast, to feel more comfortable, almost "mirroring" the lives for some people.

So you can look at Night Court and point your finger and say things like "it's condescending", "promotes lust", etc. and not learn anything = zero,

OR

You can read the transcription of the episode, and learn what tools the writers suggest on how to solve/prevent future relationship issues.

Just one of the great lessons that I learned from going to 12 Step programs a long time ago comes from the slogan "Take what you want, and leave the rest." If I could "translate" that a bit, to me that slogan says: "Find the good in the message, the part that helps you learn to become a better person, and use it, instead of finding something you don't like about something, pointing your finger at it and tossing the whole message out the window." One choice, which is your choice, can help you grow, while the other provides zero growth.

Note: The suggested method that this episode attempts to teach is may be common sense for some, and new for others. Important Relationship Skills discusses some of the skills needed for this to happen.

On to the episode!

The episode that I want to share with you is about an old longtime girlfriend (Lesley) who comes to visit Harry and she tries to seduce Harry. Harry has a hard time saying no, and they are just about to get very passionate when they hear a knock on the door. The following transcript (and added comments) start from that point on in the episode:

Lesley says: "I just hope it’s not my husband (Sheldon)."

Harry then gets very nervous and says: "YOU’RE HUSBAND?!"

They break for a commercial and when they return a few things happen between them and other characters. But let’s continue on with the point of the story.

When Sheldon (husband) comes in, Harry is so nervous that even though Harry is saying the truth, how he says it sounds very incriminating to Sheldon. The more Harry says, the worse things sound.

Eventually Sheldon is so angry at Judge Harry Stone that Sheldon says: "Somebody get me a gun!"

Finally, Lesley steps between the two men and says to Sheldon: "Sheldon, stop it this instant, I’m the one who started this whole thing."

Harry: "That’s right Sheldon; I was just an innocent bystander."

Sheldon (to Lesley): "All right, let me understand this, you seduced him??

Lesley: "What do you expect; you don’t pay any attention to me. Maybe if you did, I wouldn’t have to go someplace else. You don’t care about me; all you care about is your stupid job selling pork rinds."

Sheldon: "Hey I worked my butt off for her and she doesn’t appreciate it."

Some of cast then gets into a "who’s right and who’s wrong" argument when Harry throws that gavel and says: "Let’s behave with a bit of decorum."

Lesley says: "All I know is I deserve better than this."

Harry: "What I’m hearing is that there is some kind of communication breakdown."

Sheldon turns to Harry, angrily pointing his finger at Harry: "What do you know about this?"

Harry: "I’m a judge Sheldon. Every day in that court I see couples who really care about each other, ruining their relationships. WHY are they doing that!? Because they don’t take the time to tell EACH OTHER what’s really in their minds."

Harry (as he looks at both of them): "Now let’s see if we can’t get a little of this out into the open, ok?"

Harry turns to Lesley: "Lesley, forget about the fact that your mad at him, forget that your hurt. Just tell Sheldon what it is you want from him."

Lesley: "Well, I would like him to spend some time with me for a change."

Harry: "That’s good, that’s good."

Harry turns to Sheldon: "Sheldon, what do you want from Lesley?"

Sheldon: "I want some understanding, some frigging compassion!"

Harry steps in between the two, puts his arm around Sheldon and looks at Lesley: "Sheldon doesn’t quite have the hang of it just yet."

Harry looks back and forth to them both and says: "But there is a message inside there somewhere."

Harry (still standing between them turns to Sheldon: "Sheldon you work hard right?"

Sheldon: "Yea"

Harry: "To make money so she’ll have things."

Sheldon: "Yea"

Harry: "So she’ll have security and she’ll be proud of you."

Sheldon: "Yea"

Harry (turns to Lesley): "And you hate these hours."

Lesley: "Right"

Harry: "Because he’s important to you and you wish you were important to him."

Lesley: "Yea"

Harry: And you miss him and you wish he didn’t have to work so hard.

Lesley: "YES!"

Harry: (looking at both) "Then what we have is a man who wants his wife to have everything, and a wife who wants him more than anything else he can give her. You know, if I didn’t know you two so well, I would say you’re in love!"

There a long pause between the two, and then you see smiles between Sheldon and Lesley!

Then after a few kind words between Lesley and Sheldon, Harry speaks again.

Harry: "These misunderstandings always arise when we’re not absolutely honest with each other."

Conclusions from this Episode:

From this episode, 4 Steps could be drawn, providing one possible path to solving many relationship issues:
  1. If you find your having a relationship problem with someone you love (or once loved), it is most likely because of "some kind of communication breakdown." Now this may seem obvious, but letting little issues build up instead of talking about them can build into bigger problems. And not talking about any issues won't solve anything.
  2. The solution to that breakdown can be solved when you are "absolutely honest with each other" and you talk about the issues coming from the heart; expressing your feelings in a loving, caring way as best as you can.
  3. In this episode, Harry clearly had BOTH parties talk about their feelings. Don't forget that most relationships, including friendships, should be much more like partnerships then dictatorships.
  4. By all means, make use of a mediator if you can’t work out the problems between the two of you. Harry was the mediator in this episode. Professional mediators are used so often in divorce courts, and are a mandated step in some states; again, for a good reason. They can work. The same success can be seen when working with a healthy couples counselor, who also plays a mediator role. After all, if you love or once loved someone, wouldn’t the cost of a mediator or therapist be worth the cost of the saved relationship? Mediators will help each party try to use skills found in Important Relationship Skills.

Why doesn’t everyone simply follow these Steps?

Now it’s obvious that most, if not all, relationship problems stem from not "talking about the problem" in the first place. And this can often happen because the problem is uncomfortable to talk about. And the problem can bring up many emotions such as anger and hurt. Maybe you don’t want to hurt the other person.

Maybe you don’t know how to talk or work out relationship problems.

Unless you were raised in a family with parents who talked out their problems, you were not taught how to work out problems. It's something you must learn. It’s not taught in public schools, and that’s not the public school’s fault. It’s also not taught by the government. Have you never seen a government educational program on how to work out problems in relationships?

When you are child, typically it’s the parents or caregivers that "normally" teach you, by being healthy role models for their children. However, if you were not taught as a child, when you become an adult, the end result is that you must educate yourself on how to have healthy relationships, and how to solve relationship issues. And if you do learn the skills, you will be a healthy role model for others, including children.

What if the reason is that you are afraid to talk about it?

Even worse, what if you were raised in a family who yelled or screamed or was emotionally or physically abusive, when relationship problems arose? What if you had a parent that bullied you or acted almost like a dictator? Or what if the person you are trying to resolve the issue with has some or more of these characteristics? It would make perfect sense for you to be fearful of talking. That is a normal reaction. Educate yourself on how stop living a life as a victim.

What if the reason is that you made a mistake or intentionally harmed the other person?

The short answer is still the same; you have to talk about it. In addition, realize making amends is often valuable.

Making amends means to compensate or make up for a wrongdoing. Let’s say you broke something. Making amends might mean fixing it, or replacing it. 

It’s impossible to change a past mistake. You can learn to be a better person if you admit it and then make an honest effort to learn from your mistakes. By not talking about it, you are more likely to repeat the same mistakes in the future. Making amends and talking about it will also help to release your guilt. Guilt, like stress and anger, are scientifically proven to be unhealthy for your life.

Conclusion

If your parents or others made a mistake by being abusive or they were not good role models, or even if you made a mistake, you can’t change that. However, you can learn from it, and educate yourself so that you don’t make those same mistakes in your current relationships. Let your past make you better, not bitter.

The book "The Question Behind the Question" (amazon) states that throughout our lives we are role models to everyone who knows us. Learning tools for healthy loving relationships allows us to be better role models and will result in a better world.

So ask yourself: Is this the life you really want to live? Do you really want to lose (or not have) loving relationships because of what happened in the past or because you are not willing to educate yourself or ask others to help you solve your present relationship problems? Mend your relationships.

I believe this episode provided some good guidelines for resolving relationship conflicts, and they are summarized in the 4 Steps from above. By all means, if needed, seek professional help.

Consider something Carl Bard said: "Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending."

So if you’re struggling with all of this, then consider something that Mae West said: "I didn’t say it was going to be easy, I said it was going to be worth it."

Thank YOU for reading this!

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This page updated 06/07/18 05:10 PM