While you’re dating everything does feel like a gift of the universe: long conversations, frequent sex, joy, happiness, feeling seen, heard, known, understood, and supported. It’s amazing. The world seems bright and fulfilling, you have lightness in your heart and your step, smiles on your face. What a lovely time indeed.
Now you’re in a committed relationship or married and some other feelings begin to surface. As you feel safer and more intimate you let down your guard, and let your partner see more of you. You get to make a home together maybe have kids. You see new facets of your beloved that you’re not so excited about. Certain characteristics may even remind you of your mom or dad! How can that be? You wanted to get away from those.
Dr. Katherine Ford, who I studied with for five years, outlines the system that occurs from intimacy: It leads to expectation (protection from pain, loss, loneliness, fear and risk) + knowledge of the other + knowledge of the self + dependency + rejection of the self and other + emotional flashbacks. These lead to anxiety, anger, fear, disappointment and sadness. This leads to increased defenses and decreased gratification.
This is why you need to work on your marriage. A good, well-trained, experienced couple therapist brings comfort and support, new assumptions, assistance and teaching. These lead to decreased defenses, new behaviors, working deeply, which decreases damage, increases gratification, trust and motivation.
Now the work begins - or you can bail on the relationship or shove it all under the rug. If you bail, most likely the pattern will repeat with your relationships until you work through it. If you shove it under the rug you’ll be walking on eggshells until things blow up.
Fairytales always end with “And they lived happily ever after. “ As adults we need a new ending to the fairytale that begins with courting. Maybe: “And they lived and worked to put their marriage as their top priority and have each other‘s back‘s no matter what $#!€ flew their way.” Wouldn’t you agree that’s more realistic?
Working through anger, frustration, jealousy, and separateness brings the emotional connection and intimacy that everyone craves and deserves. That leads to joy and happiness.
Please don’t be the couple that:
1. Focuses on your kids more than each other (that’s not the example you want them to grow up with - a couple relationship as top priority is the roof over their heads are secure attachment - and that’s what they most need).
2. Works more than being with each other ( if work brings more reward and pleasure than your marriage get going counseling ASAP ).
3. Spends more time planning vacations than working on your marriage.
4. Waits six years to get help.
Your work and commitment to your marriage is what leads to the outcome: bliss, roommates, stagnant, or divorce.
What’s it going to be?