And it’s been the single best thing for our relationship.
It started in April 2020. The two week quarantine had become over a month in quarantine. Endless hours stuck in the same space, not able to leave, not able to go out. We were irritated and irritable.
Everything was annoying both of us about the other. We just needed and wanted some space, but that wasn’t possible, so we made up “Rick,” an imaginary person to blame things on.
When I walked into the bathroom and saw the toilet seat up again, I said, “Honey, Rick left the toilet seat up again!”
“That asshole! He really needs to get it together,” he called back.
While before I might have been annoyed and huffy, instead I was laughing.
“Damn right, he does!” I said.
“Did Rick call and make that doctor’s appointment?” he asked.
I grimaced. “No, he forgot again. I’ll do it today.”
“Fucking Rick, right?” my husband said back.
“Fucking Rick,” I repeated.
“Rick” became a way to lighten up the mood. He’s like the shitty co-worker we could both rag on, a common enemy. Us against Rick, instead of us against each other.
After I posted a Tiktok on this, many couples commented that they did the same thing. They blame the dog for who farted. They blame the cat for forgetting to move the clothes in the washer to the dryer. They blame a house ghost for misplacing important mail.
My husband and I blame “Rick” for minor foibles: forgetting to take the trash can to the curb, not picking up the dirty clothes, eating all the leftovers. While some commenters said things like, “Honey, Rick cheated on you!” This imaginary person isn’t for REAL or BIG issues. It’s for the silly little things that sometimes get under our skin.
I love having a “Rick.” It’s been the single best thing for our relationship because it’s allowed us to laugh instead of get irritated over and over again for minor inconveniences, irritations, mistakes, etc.
We still take responsibility for our specific issues and can hold each other accountable to that, but it’s done in a lighthearted, more loving way.
Here’s why you should have your own imaginary person in your relationship:
1. It reminds you that you’re a team.
The healthiest couples are a team. They work together. Couples who describe things as “we” are, in studies, happier. It’s not “I” and “I,” but “we.” You are in this relationship together, and you are working on it together.
Your imaginary person is outside of the team, so it’s not you against each other, but you as a uniformed front against this annoying fool you’ve made up.
2. It reminds you to team up AGAINST the problem.
My husband is not the problem when he leaves the toilet seat up. Him forgetting to put the toilet seat down is a behavior. A mistake. That’s not him.
Me forgetting to make a doctor’s appointment after I said I would isn’t because I’m a terrible person. I just got caught up taking care of our kids and ignored the calendar reminder to do so.
“Rick” allows us to highlight just the problem, not who did it and why they may or may not be a jerkyface for it. It allows us to move past the irritation and get onto the real work: addressing the problem. My husband goes and puts down the toilet seat “for” Rick, and I go and make the doctor’s appointment “for” Rick.
3. It reminds you to not be so serious.
Maybe because I’m a Certified Relationship Coach, I can sometimes be too damn serious about this love stuff. I have SO many ways to address a specific issue. I have contracts, rules, guidelines, boundaries, tools, verbiage, etc.
I can get caught up in, “Oh! I have a way to fix this!!” when really I should…just let my relationship be.
This imaginary person allows me to do just that. I don’t have to try to “fix” the issue or craft some carefully worded way of asking my husband to do his part. I can just call it out, laugh, and move on.
While we’ve only had “Rick” in our life for about a year, I can say I’m grateful. This imaginary person has kept us laughing all the way through a frightening pandemic and weeks upon weeks of me, a husband, two dogs, and four kids quarantining at home. We’ve given each other a lot more grace and a lot more love, and that’s surely what we — and you — all need.
Watch the Tiktok on this here.