In a perfect world your soul mate would come toward you in slow motion across a field of daisies with background music from the King and I, “Some Enchanted Evening…”
Theologically, I embrace the idea there is ONE someone to whom and with whom you would be perfectly suited for life and love and an ideal marriage.
Some of those exist, but their number is shrinking. What about the rest of us? Some of us have had failed prior marriages. Others struggle with debilitating addictions and mood disorders. Some have children from prior marriages dealing with yours/mine/ours.Still others decide all relationships are temporary.
Some come from terrible home environments where they never saw how a wholesome family works
In Western Culture it is common for couples these days to meet up, hook up, shack up, marry up and/or break up…wash, rinse, repeat.
In last week’s NUGGET I suggested your choice of a mate is colored by how you were raised. Perhaps there are some things to be done at the outset to ensure success in a relationship.
If Margaret Mead is to be believed, you will encounter as many as 1400 people in a lifetime with whom you could forge a successful relationship and marriage. It seems to me the trick is to find someone you like to be around, to find someone to whom you are attracted, to find someone with common goals/aspirations/ values and yes spiritual beliefs.
Everything beyond that is learned behavior. It is. I know of no consistent place in our society where couples are universally encouraged to learn how to get marriage right…this in spite of hundreds, if not thousands of functionaries who are prepared to offer education and coaching on how to get it right.
The sad truth is we have focused so much time and energy on wedding preparation and expenditures, we seldom focus on what makes a marriage work and work well. Isn’t the tacit assumption, 1) find someone who will have you, 2) afford a license, 3) and voila, you are automatically equipped to be a husband/wife or dad/mom. Oh, you will figure it out… When you say it out loud, does it even make sense?
All relationships go through at least two stages:
- Romance: You are on your best behavior. You are squeaky clean when you are with your significant ‘other’. It is your Mom’s admonition to wear clean underwear in case you ever have to go to the hospital. Clean shave. Clean clothes. Mouthwash, subtle fragrances. You cannot wait to be together. Your palms are sweaty. You can talk on the phone for hours into the night and still be fresh for work the next day. Fresh flowers. Dates where the fella opens doors and does all the chivalrous things of another era.
Some even marry while in this euphoric stage only to discover when the new wears off THIS is not the same person with whom I FELL in love. (There is that FALL/FELL word again)
- Power Struggle: There will come a time when the new wears off. Expectations are not the same. Resentments soar. Things you didn’t notice before suddenly become huge. Affection wanes. If he/she really loved me I wouldn’t have to ask for what I want. I think I have made a huge mistake. This is NOT Mr. or Mrs. Right…perhaps it is just Mr, or Mrs. Right NOW. If I just made a better choice I’d find the RIGHT one.
Here is where many relationships and marriages fail. So quitting becomes an option and NEXT becomes the favorite 4-letter word.
So, is that it??? Just a series of tandem monogamies? Always looking for someone else to make you happy and whole.
That is one option, but not the only one and not the best by a long shot. Next time let’s talk about how to overcome the obstacles of the unrealistic expectations heaped on many relationships and marriage in this country. There is good news…no, it’s GREAT news.
See you next week.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT