Friday, July 1, 2011

Finding Love After Loss: The Committed Relationship

Beliefs about marriage and divorce are part of our culture; however, some statements may only be myths often repeated so the populace begins to believe in their veracity as they enter the collective consciousness. Let's examine some of these so-called truths, while recognizing that these are gross generalities and that there are always exceptions.

1. Having learned their lesson from a bad or troubled marriage, each partner goes on to be successful in their subsequent relationships.
Unless the time is taken to address each partner's responsibility in the failure of their relationship, the same mistakes are often repeated. Simply acknowledging the mistakes is not enough. Work must be completed to change the causal behavior.

2. Taking a relationship for a test drive by living together increases the chances for a successful marriage.
This is not necessarily true as studies have shown that those who cohabitate before marriage have a greater chance of eventually divorcing. This may be due to the idea that relationships are temporary and can be ended easily. Stronger relationships are formed when a leap of faith is taken (only after thoroughly coming to know your partner) by making a commitment to marriage before moving in together. It illustrates a deep trust in your partner, which is a foundational trait of a strong partnership.

3. Having children, either in wedlock or before, creates a strong bond and improves marital satisfaction.
Welcoming a baby into a relationship is a time of high stress. If a strong relationship did not exist before the child was born, chances are that tension and problems will escalate when both partners are tired, cranky and focused mainly on the child and not as much on each other. In the case of second or subsequent marriages, when merging two families that each have children of various ages, it is important to allow adequate time for adjustment to the new situation before "expecting" children to be as happy as the adults. Change, even when it is for the better, is always difficult.

4. Intermittent unhappiness in a relationship does not bode well for its longevity.
Life has its ups and downs, and our relationships (as a microcosm of life) also fluctuate. With two committed partners, storms can be weathered and momentary (or what may seem unending) unhappiness can be turned around. It is unrealistic to believe that your partner can fulfill your every need. During a tough time with your partner, look for doses of positivity from friends and other areas of your life. These good feelings can buoy the relationship until a better place can be reached.

5. Marriage, as an institution, is more beneficial to men than women.
In actuality, men and women both benefit  albeit in different ways. Studies show that married couple live longer, happier and healthier lives. In many instances, men gain greater health benefits while women gain greater financial advantages (or both benefit from a dual income). 

6. Luck and love are the two keys to a successful marriage.
Although luck may play a small part, it is mostly that you take the time to choose your partner well. Being friends first; having common interests, goals and values; being committed to each other and to the marriage; and willing to work through issues vs running away at the hint of trouble are some hallmarks of what makes a long-lasting partnership and marriage.

7. Married people have less sex than single people.
This turns out to be a fantasy promulgated by the swinging single.  According to national studies, married people are not only having more sex, they are enjoying it more  both physically and emotionally.

In truth, while there are universal principles that apply to all relationships, each is as unique as the partners who join together to create it. When a commitment is made to marriage, it is each partner's responsibility to do his/her best to honor it fully with love, truth, trust, respect, humility and acceptance.

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