Monday, June 2, 2008

Marriage and Relationships - making them work

Each spring, the sound of wedding bells fill the air. It’s a time of love, of hope and of high expectations. The famous German playwright, Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, said it best when he said, “Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing; a confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished.”

The concept for marriage out of love is a relatively new experience that began in Europe around 1100 ad. Up until that point, all marriages everywhere were arranged marriages based on political and financial alliances. A practice that continues to remain true for the majority of marriages around the world today.

By the late 1500’s, the idea of marriage based on love had taken hold in Europe inspiring Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Marriage became a decision made between the husband and wife. Shakespeare’s work explored the ecstasies of passion and the devastating consequences of fiery passion not balanced with a realistic perspective. And what blinded his heroic lovers to the realistic perspective that could have saved their lives and marriage? It was their unrealistic expectations.

Their unrealistic expectations swept them off their feet from their passionate beginning and carried them off to their tragic end. What was true in the time of Shakespeare continues to hold true today; if we allow our expectations of love to run our romance, we will never see the other person, or the marriage itself, in a realistic light. Our unrealistic expectations invite the poison pill of Shakespeare’s tragedy into our own world. Our unrealistic expectations will kill our relationship.

Statistically, arranged marriages experience lower rates of divorce than love based marriages. The reason is that the participants of arranged marriages have lower expectations of their partners. Individuals enter into arranged marriages with lower expectations and therefore experience less disappointment.

They realize that if this arranged marriage is going to work, then they have to accept responsibility for their part in creating harmony and caring with this stranger in their bed. Right from the start, they have to work on it. They do not have the luxury of depending on love to carry them through. If their marriage is going to survive, then they have to make decisions based upon what is good for the relationship. What is true for them is also true for you. If you marriage is going to survive, then you both must begin basing your decisions on what is good for the relationship above what is good for each of you alone.

With divorce rates in this nation nearing the 50 percent mark, I see one and only one culprit: unrealistic expectations. We often expect that marriage, and surely our spouses, will rescue us from our feelings of isolation and loneliness. Love will conquer all. I can assure you that it will not. Marriage is not a solution for loneliness. Under the right circumstances, two can be a lonelier number than one.

There are some things you can do to improve your marital odds. First, and foremost, lower your expectations of what your marriage and your partner are going to do for you. Healthy relationships are created by our participation in them. They are not bestowed upon us through passive participation.

By enacting decisions based upon what is good for the relationship, we help them to grow. Your marriage should be treated as a living being under your care whose health is dependent upon your attention. Your marriage is not there to be your servant. That attitude will quickly drain the vibrancy of your love and leave you to wallow in your disappointment. To have a successful marriage, we must become the loving servants of our marriage and by doing so, we will enjoy the all the gifts that a growing, healthy, and deeply loving relationship can bring.

As young lovers move forward into this wonderful and exciting time of their lives above all else, they would do well to lower what they expect out of their partner. Instead, they might consider what they can contribute ahead of what they will receive. By doing so, the magic of love is allowed to do its work in their lives.

For more information on couples and marriage go to LAtherapist.com and get your free relationship profile or log onto Surviving the Wedding for free samples of premarital downloads. You may also want to check out Dr. Walton's acclaimed Anger Management download. Catch Dr. Walton discussing how to make a marriage work on YouTube.

1 comment:

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