Well, after the post on August 5, 2007 , I received an EMAIL from a very dear friend who said, "I hypothesize that the longer you are married, the lower your scores become. At 29 years and counting, I don't EXPECT anything. However, the relationship is way better than ever! Lying in bed holding hands is more meaningful than the lovemaking was years ago. I know that when she has to give - she gives all she has. I try my best to do the same…" I shared this story with a couple in therapy and they BOTH looked at me with that baffled and perplexed look which told me, "They don't get it!!" So let's push ahead and explore some more…
Thinking through your ideas about love (both by yourself and with others) is both challenging and enlightening. As you review the statements in the post above, you may be tempted to dismiss "those ideas about love" as belonging to someone who is not nearly as 'grown up' as you are…or you may be tempted to brush off these statements as irrelevant to your situation. But don't be fooled…some of these beliefs are in our very core and it is not easy to gauge how much of our 'relational unhappiness' is due to this irrational and unrealistic view of life. Of course if I have the unrealistic expectations then I am the one who needs to change! Always remember this 'truth' about relationships: Change occurs only as we begin thinking about and working on the self --- rather than staying focused on and reactive to the other.
Of course my partner plays an equal role in our marriage, however, I can place way too much pressure on my partner and on my relationship whenever I want my partner to be,
- My friend in this world where I am friendless,
- My companion in this world where I am close to no one,
- My shield from my aloneness,
- My playmate to keep me from getting bored,
- My lover (of course I deserve world class treatment here!!), and
- She is to be all of this automatically and most of all graciously…according to my whims and needs at the moment (which I myself may not even know!!).
I can also burden my relationship (and smother my partner with this suffocating anxiety)…
- When I expect her to do exactly what I want her to do at the moment I want her to do it and to be happily occupied whenever I am too busy for the relationship
- When I expect her to make me feel wiser more loving, but she better never ever make me feel inferior!
- When I want her to merge with me and complete me and to be me…but don't suffocate me or never bore me!
- When I want her to know my needs and meet my needs (ever heard of "his needs her needs?") even when I am being unreasonable. I once knew a very Christian man who demanded that his wife be a "proverbs 31 woman." Umm, I wonder how much peace, tranquility, and joy emanated from that relationship!?!? Doesn't that just radiate grace?!!
- When I want her to extend grace to me (forgive or at least overlook my limitations…) while I reject her imperfections!
Can you feel the pressure this type of a relationship would experience? Of course this anxiety forces us to face ourselves and think. These expectations have a way of rearing their ugly heads whenever we go through a stressful period of life, even the normal stressful periods like children getting married and grandbabies coming and/or even changing jobs or building a house!
The great news is whenever I see these irrational parts in me, I can learn to master myself and learn self control. This leads to 'grown up' marriages…where I can choose to believe 'truth' rather than some 'lie' I have picked up along the way.