Sometimes I’ll see something, usually a statement or meme or other post by a complete stranger, and it will just get stuck in my head. Especially if I disagree, and have multiple mental arguments about it. This is one of those times.
My husband and I just recently finished watching The Office from start to finish for the first time, and we really enjoyed it. I especially liked Jim and Pam’s relationship, because it just felt so genuine. Even their arguments had an authenticity to them, not overly dramatic, but the kind of things a real couple would fight over. I appreciated watching their relationship grow, and seeing them communicate, miscommunicate, make amends, and just have fun together.
On a FB meme comments section I discovered that apparently multiple people feel that Pam “ruined season 9” because she was just mean and annoying and had no chill because Jim was gone so much, unlike when he was totally cool that she was in New York for school. When I saw these comments, I had some words.
1. Marriage and Dating are Two Different Things
Besides the fact that neither of them were very happy with that arrangement either, they weren’t married yet and had no kids when she went to NY. When Jim is in Philly, Pam is working full time plus taking on full childcare and household responsibilities while he has basically none. She is practically living as a single parent at that point, which is a completely different scenario than when they were apart while she was in art school.
2. It Was a Mutual Decision
They both decided she should go to NY together, and Jim is the one who actively encouraged her to go. Compare that to Jim in Philly, a decision he basically dumped on her with no actual conversation and without giving her the ability to really express her thoughts or feelings about it.
3. Healthy Relationships Have Expectations
She had a right to be upset that either of their jobs would get in the way and destroy the relationship. She had a right, as his wife, to want him living in the same house and taking an equal share of parenting and other household duties. I did like that they eventually decided to go ahead with the new business together. But she also had a right to be conflicted! She didn’t want Jim away, but also didn’t want to crush his dream, so it had to get to the point of realizing they would lose the relationship before she really took a stand.
4. Jim WAS Pretty Selfish
He was selfish in that whole situation until he realized he might lose his wife and marriage. He didn’t communicate well with her at ALL, and just dumped it on her indefinitely, not even really comprehending the situation he was leaving her in, emotionally and as the sole parent, which was completely unfair to her. He was off living a bachelor’s dream and didn’t take her into consideration at all.
5. Her Love is What Caused Her Reaction
She was upset and bothered BECAUSE she loved and cared about him. She wanted to be with him and the whole point of marriage is to NOT be long distance. She enjoyed his company and wanted to raise their family together. There was none of that togetherness when he was gone 50% or more of the time. She felt their relationship slipping but didn’t know what to do about it.
The reason it went on so long is because she did not know how to ruin his dream job without making him resent her forever. Eventually, they both realized that the relationship was worth more than a job, or a house, or living in any particular city, and Pam is the one who initiates making the permanent move toward the new job and moving to a new city together. During the initial conflict, Jim didn’t really give her the opportunity to hash it out and decide together what was the best thing for their family.
So no, I do not think that Pam ruined Season 9. I actually thought it was a great representation of the kind of relational miscommunication and accidental selfishness that can cause a rift in an otherwise great relationship. A small miscommunication can cause a rift and if that is not mended, can eventually lead to the death of a relationship.
It was a reminder for me to never take my relationship for granted. Never assume I’ve “arrived” and can just stop investing into the core of the relationship. That’s what I loved about Season 9, seeing a couple go through the type of issue any real couple might, and coming out stronger on the other end.