I spend a lot of time reading up on the latest relationship research and debates so you don’t have to. One blog post I read recently suggested a couple ‘really gets married’ somewhere around the 5th year after their wedding. So why, I got to wondering, was this?
One answer comes from Harriet Lerner’s wonderful book Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and The Coupled Up, described as “Required reading for anyone hoping to interact successfully with any other human” .. (a great idea for a wedding gift by the way).
Lerner’s Rule #1 (let’s call it the Uber Rule) is Respect Differences!
In the first, hot, part of a relationship we think our partner is perfect in every way, that we are ‘two halves of the same coin’ and other such sayings. But as time goes on this naturally fades, we become more secure in our friendship and start to really show ourselves. Maybe he really likes nothing more than to sit in his tracksuit pants in front of the football, while she is sulking because he used to take her out for dinner on a Saturday night .. and neither understands why things have changed .. and before long a thousand little niggles have convinced each of them ‘this is the wrong person for me’, or “I love him, but I’m not IN LOVE with him”.
Lerner advises that for a loving relationship to flourish we should not:
“.. get too nervous about differences”, or ..
“.. equate closeness with sameness”, and instead “work on staying emotionally close to a partner who thinks and feels differently than you do without needing to convince or otherwise fix [them].”
When couples can accept and celebrate each other as they truly are the marriage really begins. Which is when she can say “Sweetie, I really don’t get football, but I’m happy you’re enjoying the match”, and he says “Honey, put on your best dress, and when the final whistle goes we’re going out on the town”.
Sometimes getting there needs some independent help, a fresh perspective from an outside source. If that’s what you need get in touch with a well qualified and experienced relationship counsellor who should be able to work with you to achieve your relationship goals.