Cure For The American Marriage
Apart from the usual factors that predict divorce like being too young, going against the family of origin, and breaking locally accepted conventions or customs that define a successful marriage. The most powerful influence on the success or failure of marriage will come from your own expectations.
By expectations I simply mean, what you expect of your future spouse. The continuum of marital expectations will range from realistic on one end to fantasy on the other.
Now marriage in and of itself is a very realistic arrangement. A successful marriage will involve a mixture of romance, friendship, and partnership. Leave out one of these ingredients and it diminishes your chances for success.
Romance is the easy part. Friendship and partnership will require real efforts and dedication.
My generation and the next have grown up on a steady diet of fantasy powered by the various forms of media that actively teach us things about life and love. The realities of life and love have been altered to fit whatever presentation is fashionable.
We’ve come to believe that the fantasy worlds and the people in them are the standard against which everything is compared. We’ve had so much exposure to them, and from them draw much of how we create our own identities, that the line that separates fantasy and reality had grown a little dim.
The sad and dangerous truth is that real human beings don’t measure up very well to fantasy. Perhaps the passing of the honeymoon phrase in a marriage is just another way of talking about reality attempting to regain its rightful place in our expectations of love.
If unsuccessful in deposing fantasy, a marriage can breed discontent and a feeling of betrayal. Something like, you’re not the person you were supposed to be, or worse yet, you’re not the person I married!
Our greatest hope to reverse the aftereffects of all this media ‘junk food’ we’ve been fed about love is to start challenging the false beliefs this exposure has spawned. Your psychological objective should be to love a real person. Without settling to the point of a malignant self-sacrifice, to make peace with the dents and scars you are going to find in any and every love and marital choice.
Take your pick, the guiding rule should be to find someone whose character and its limitations you can live with the best. If you expect to find someone without limitations you don’t like, you’re in fantasy.
Only in fantasy can you find a lover or spouse without limitations. Even then it’ll be short lived because it’s only a matter time until you encounter the inevitable imitations that will challenge your fantasy expectations.
By the way, a realistic love relationship requires practice. You practice compromising, sharing, accepting, and forgiving without losing yourself, for the greater purpose of keeping your love alive in a healthy and growing relationship.
The gift you get for your effort and time is a deep and enduring intimacy. You see, intimacy can’t grow in fantasy. It’s just not the proper soil for that delicate little plant.
Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan