A Healing Theory on Marital Impermanence

Those of us who have partners work hard to continue a thriving relationship. And when things go wrong, we worry. But what do we mean by the word "wrong"? And could it be that our definition of wrong isn't really about something gone sour?

Something we never abandon as adults is our magical wish list. We can have all the smarts, a healthy dose of skepticism to decipher what's reasonable in life, and even be a mathematical genius. Nevertheless, our minds or brains--I see the two different--uphold in relentless fashion a childhood wish for the ideal.

In general, this ideal drives us to find the 'right' house, career, and new car. We innocently attribute a sense of heroism to those things that we wish for. But long story short, it only takes a matter of time when the right house, career, and new car lose their ranks. While good motivators, still ideals are just that, ideals.

When it comes to marriage, the same pattern takes place. We perceive that there is someone out there who will take it all away. We don't display our dependency for a rescue on social media. Still, deep inside we wish for that person who will ALWAYS see and listen to our existence. And at some point, we find it, so we think.

Like the right house, career, or new car, our hero or heroine begins to lose that number one place in our minds. It isn't all its cut out to be, we ponder. Something must be wrong, we add in quiet. Disappointment and regret has now settled. "Either we seek a therapist or we split up, period!" But what is really happening?

No doubt, sometimes couples are in trouble and seeking a professional is just the right thing to do. I'd like to talk here about those times when sounding the alarm might not be one of those times. I call it a healing theory of marital impermanence.

What we do learn when we've been together for years is that things change. We recognize that the other isn't a hero or heroine as we had intellectually imposed; never was one. And that all those ideal features we were hoping to find (and swore were there) never existed. One snores while the other doesn't attent to his or her smelly socks. One "constantly" complains while the other doesn't jump when you get home from work. Kisses range from lots to little and back to lots. And the quality and quantity of sex moves up and down the list endlessly like waves in the ocean.

Marriage is just like the theory of human development. It has its waves of vibrancy and decline. Everything does! Nothing unnatural about a relationship having both drive and dormancy. The changes that occur in a relationship: happiness to boredom to almost happiness, a partner who is "everything" and sometimes "not enough", a spouse who is the most handsome or beautiful to being "ok", are often very normal phases. Only our wish list takes a bruising.

Those who have been together for twenty or more years know this fine secret of impermanence that not only comes naturally at any moment in life but as we change with age and the introduction of illness. These long held contracts maintain a content relationship with cyclical ups and downs because they've shifted from the ideal to the real. No longer do they pressure their partner to deliver them from deficiencies. And they have kindly resolved to the truth that while there are moments of ecstasy, ongoing highs just don't exist. And that, my friend, is happiness ever after!

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