Where has the comedy gone? Relationships are falling flat and the adult world is taking over!!! The following is a review of Penny and Leonards System Dynamics. I would LOVE your feedback on the joy…or discontent… you find with these lovable friends! (***ALERT*** longer post than usual but it’s worth dealing with the extra 3 minutes of reading! maybe.) P.s. I am sadly aware there are so many from this tribe I did not get to mention… mostly because this became SO LONG!
Penny and Leonard Hofstadter’s family dynamics are challenging. They are a newly married couple living with a third party at all times. Discontent about a roommate with compulsive and controlling behaviors living with them named Sheldon Cooper was prevalent. Despite discussions, it ends with complaints without actions. A newlywed couple in our society can view this as a negative impact on their time together. Finally, Sheldon moves out and the couple then moves in another one of their friends, Raj, with his own personal interesting issues and challenges adding more tension. There have been indicators prior to marriage that both parties do not believe they have another choice for a relationship and have settled for one another.
Boundaries are challenging within the Hofstadter couple’s marriage and are identified as permeable. Both Sheldon’s and Raj’s issues bleed into Penny and Leonard’s relationship. I believe most of the friend’s issues stay in the forefront in this household as people are continually coming and going. This triangulation has become such a challenge, Sheldon even went on the honeymoon with the couple to San Francisco for what he convinced them was for personal reflection (International, 2015).
Leonard has mommy issues and low self-esteem, he seeks validation and affirmation from both Penny and his mother. Penny is a socialite, can appear selfish, shallow and is always looking to capture her dream as an actress. Penny seeks refuge in the wisdom of her one newly married friend (Bernadette) and one single friend (Sheldon’s Amy) to sort through marital challenges. The couple has adopted Sheldon as a relationship akin to a younger sibling or a child. They are unable to ignore him and move forward. The more Leonard needs Penny, the more Sheldon needs Leonard. The couple presents with continual attempts to sabotage their own marriage, I believe both are in fear of losing the other and are finding themselves unable to face that fear. Pushing through fear is challenging and a way back to a healthy marriage is communication about these issues.
Sheldon has limited emotional recognition (maybe a sweet pea sized amygdala to blame) as well as lessened expressions of his own emotion. He is controlling and orderly and many have described him as having Asperger’s syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder, but he insists his mother had him tested and he is definitively not classified as crazy. Raj is not as overtly challenging as Sheldon, but his presence in the newlywed’s home still draws the focus away from whatever issues the couple may need to resolve. If the issues remain on the back burner, they can fester and grow rather than create growth.
The couple’s supra-systems are impacted by social group differences and families of origins (Wetchler & Hecker, 2015). Leonard’s personal devotion to all things science fiction is far removed from his wife’s yoga practicing, low-tech lifestyle choices. The families of origin come into play periodically abrasively reminding this couple of their vastly differing upbringing. Minimal history is provided of legitimate financial stability other than Leonard refusing marriage therapy due to the cost being a strain. Leonard comes from a high-achieving family and personally is an experimental physicist at Caltech with a sibling working as a tenured law professor at Harvard. Penny has a high school education or equivalent and a few college courses. There a is minimal family of origin history other than she has a sibling with drug addiction and a criminal record.
Penny and Leonard have a relationship agreement drawn up by Sheldon and agreed upon by the couple. It consists of rules, roles, and expectations for their marriage. The covert rules are the challenges that create miscommunication, hurt feelings, and arguments between the couple after the issues have festered for period of time (Wetchler & Hecker, 2015). I do not believe there has been at length communication about roles and expectations outside of this contract drawn up, signed, and amended when necessary. This contract was developed due to Penny’s discontent over Leonard’s lack of romantic pursuit of her and her challenge to communicate her feelings with him.
Boy! Relationships can be messy!
For further reading on relationship agreements here is Sheldon’s and Amy’s for your viewing pleasure!
Penny: You guys just got back together. You might not want to ditch her on her birthday.
Leonard: I think Penny has a point. You can see it another day.
Sheldon: But someone might spoil the movie. No one can spoil Amy’s birthday for me. Surprise, she’s even older. Who saw that coming?
Penny: Aww, that’s nice. Put that on her cake.
International, I. A. (2015). Retrieved June 26, 2017, from http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/About_AAMFT/Position_On_Couples.aspx
Wetchler, J. L. (2015). An introduction to marriage and family therapy. New York: Routledge.