Some Secrets To A Long Happy Marriage

Marriage and Dating; It’s Not Like It Used To Be

marriage counselingA friend told me the other day that he had this question on his mind of why people in their mid-thirties have such a hard time deciding to tie the knot nowadays? A father asked me coincidentally the same day how come his beautiful, gorgeous daughter was not asked to dance at the prom. He said “Am I blind, I think she is gorgeous, perfect, smart… what’s wrong with the young boys… probably guys her age prefer girls throwing themselves at them.” That also brought to my mind what my friend Marcus told me once…”the ‘market’ is skewed, Daniela…the men don’t chase anymore because women offer everything too easy, too fast, without requiring any ‘work’ from us.”

In my practice I hear stories of people getting together, dating, committing, getting married and then divorcing. It seems more and more that divorce is another stage in the relationship evolution. When the news of the divorce comes, it does not surprise me, because it’s a confirmation of what I’ve seen already developing between the two people from the beginning.

3 Secrets For A Long Marriage: Patience, Communication and Trust

Sometimes cheating is involved …I believe that it’s hard enough to keep a relationship going with one person at a time within the same religion, culture and race. Even when you expect to have many things in common, it still takes a lot of patience, communication and trust to keep the relationship alive for more than a couple of years, or ten years, or twenty years… What happened to the vow that ‘we’ll be together until the end’? In fact a lot of people, men or women, believe that they can keep two relationships going at the same time, the one that’s recognized as official and the one in the shadow, that nobody knows about. That must involve compartmentalization, how we call it, when none of the players gets everything, but every one of them gets a slice and the illusion that one day will get the whole. That’s also called cheating, in popular terms, and that involves a lot of lying, or at least hiding the truth and deceiving the expectation of at least one person.

Is Marriage Still Forever?

My good friend Cheryl asked me last night over desert at end of the dinner at this great ‘hole in the wall little place’…”is it then hopeless?” And I had to think for a moment…because I have this firm belief that the society nowadays doesn’t value marriage as it once did. I think women and men should get together in a union ‘for the happy ever after’ based on the common values that they share. Otherwise they have a high chance of getting into “a happy never after” the moment they exchange the rings. How can people find out if they share common values?… well, feeling free and fearless about talking to each other, beyond the initial attraction, chemistry and idealization that usually happens in the first 6 months of a relationship. Otherwise, the relationship or commitment that they got into too fast starts feeling like a cage.

Marriage and the Importance of Communicating Personal Values and Needs

There is a reason why one of the people involved, most likely the man pulls away around this time in a relationship, leaving the other person questioning everything else that happened in the history of that temporary ‘union’ for the lack of a better word… the promises, the outings, the amazing sex? One might think that a quick review of personal values done in the initial stages would spare a lot of hurt feelings, crashed hopes and disappointments. But a lot of people do not do it, and they do not talk openly about it. My experience from my personal life as well as the professional one is that people do not talk about these deep, engrained needs, letting themselves be blinded in the process by the superficial things. When the young waiter, (also a college student and a creative writer) at Top Golf, asked me what I was writing about, he said … ‘oh well technology also interferes with not stimulating people to socialize and communicate in the right way’. I had to agree with him… yes, the technology also does not help much, and entices with providing hundreds of choices of potential partners at the fingertips that could in fact distract people from paying attention to the person near them.

An Example of Conflicting Values and Lack of Communication in Marriage

Going back to the values and their importance in creating a solid, nurturing relationship, with a happy ever after ending, I just want to give an example of how things end when the values are not evaluated and talked about from the beginning. A man in his fifties, smart, flirtatious, thrill seeking, creative musician, divorced, father of two, with a high sex drive started dating an accomplished professional, successful woman, wealthy, very sexual and readily available to him. Initially he felt like the right match was on the way… the sex was amazing, the woman was obviously into him, the money were not an issue anymore, and the dates were great. Shortly they moved in together, and that’s when the differences started to show and eventually led to a painful breakup. She wanted a caregiver and not a partner; her main values were safety and security. He realized that some of his top ranked values were not met. Things became too predictable for him, too regulated, too routine. His sense of adventure and thrill seeking was stifled, and all of a sudden he felt that his creativity was not there anymore. The sex itself became boring too, and the more he tried to withdraw and regain his personal space, more she became clingier, and appeared needy. To make things worse, he started seeing other women while still being apparently committed to the one at home. That increased her sense of insecurity and made her more vigilant in watching every move he made, and she felt in a position that totally opposed her top ranked values. The relationship ended painfully, with a pervasive sense of depression, and failure for both of them.

There is Hope For Marriage

I told Cheryl that things are not hopeless, and we are probably not doomed since obviously some people succeed in maintaining a long-term relationship, but the challenges nowadays are so much higher… and the increasing divorce rate speaks for that. People have to take the time to get to know each other on deeper levels, beyond the Facebook connections, the movies they both like and the places they both travelled. They also have to consider the idea of permanence when getting married, and not thinking about the marriage as just a trial.

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