Maybe it’s time for a completely new perspective!
Working with different people, from different backgrounds, I have learned a variety of perspectives on what marriage should look like. Here in North America, there is a pattern of belief of what we ‘should’ do or believe.
I’ve always been a firm believer that we can develop our own model for what an ideal relationship is for us. Let’s take a look at what is like ‘back then’ and what it could be like now and into the future.
In the book ‘Relationships’ from The School of Life, the authors describe the romantic script that was thought to be normal in the age of romanticism. We believed in the script – that these statements were meant to happen in a marriage:
- We should meet a person of extraordinary inner and outer beauty and immediately feel a special attraction to them and them to us.
- We should have highly satisfying sex, not only at the start but forever
- We should never be attracted to someone else
- We should understand one another intuitively
- We don’t need an education in love. We will pick that up along the way, by following our feelings.
- We should have no secrets and spend constant time together (work shouldn’t get in the way).
- We should raise a family without any loss of sexual or emotional intensity.
- Our lover must be our soulmate, best friend, co-parent, co-chauffeur, accountant, household manager, and spiritual guide.
We alone, are not to blame. We often felt that the problems in our relationships were because of our own ineptitude, inadequacies of even our wrong choice in a partner resulting in feelings of guilt or loss or independence.
We were set up to complete an incredibly difficult task – pre-determined by our culture which had presented it as easy.
This makes so much sense. A lot happens in a short period of time for couples – trying to find their independence, having a family, raising that family, sleepless nights, trying to have enough money to pay for the kids or household expenses and getting established in careers.
Life happens, we get older and our needs change over time. Couples may find themselves pursuing more solo interests. Add to that, any leftover habits or beliefs from our childhood and our ability to articulate and communicate what is happening is limited. Trying to maintain the ‘expected’ level of connection becomes a challenge.
Anyone who has experienced any of this will know that the above expectations of a relationship create a burden.
The book then offers to replace the romantic template with what they call a psychologically mature vision of love which encourages a range of unfamiliar but hopeful effective attitudes:
- It is normal that love and sex may not always belong together
- Discussing money, early on, upfront, in a serious way, is not a betrayal of love
- Realizing that we are rather flawed, and our partner is too, is of huge benefit to a couple in increasing the amount of tolerance and generosity.
- We will never find everything in another person, nor they in us, not because of some unique flaw, but because of the way human nature works
- We need to make an immense effort to understand one another; that intuition can’t get us to where we need to go.
- Spending two hours discussing whether bathroom towels should be hung up of left on the floor is neither trivial nor unserious, and that there is a special dignity around laundry and time-keeping.
These are just some of the attitudes we can consider to create a new belief about romantic relationships.
In my experience, and that of my clients, I have discovered the need to be self-aware is an absolute necessity. To take ownership of our contribution in our relationships and not point fingers at someone else.
There is beauty in our ability to create healthy relationships. We all have the ability to develop our own model for a relationship, in spite of the expectations set up by others. We can redirect the course.
I will share the relationship model that my clients follow along with some of their success stories and tactics they use starting next week. This model serves as a guide to evaluate your own romantic relationships and identify any potential gaps that may require attention.