"What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome in your marriage?"
The one answer I NEVER got was, "We feel in love, got married and everything stayed PERFECT for 10, 25, 60 years straight."
Everyone had at least one if not more stories of struggle, falling out of love and either splitting apart or finding a way to renew their marriage. All the stories I heard fit into one of these 5 categories.
One couple I will never forget were married over 40 years, had seven kids and were so cute and cuddly sitting next to each other on the plane. They were the couple I dreamed of being when I was their age. When they told me one of their children committed suicide by jumping in front of a subway train in NYC I about died.
They had survived the #1 Stressor.....
This couple had been thru the worst thing a married couple can experience, the death of child. It was totally unexpected and unseen, but something happen to one of their children where the pain of life exceeded the pain of death. They went into great detail at how that one event almost tore them apart. Grief, blame, guilt, all the great emotions flooding over both of them at once. It affected both of them so deeply that there wasn't partner acting as a rock for the other, they were both swept away at once.
There may come a time or an event beyond both of your control that might take you to a place that neither one of you are prepared for. The only way you can prepare is to be the best you, you can be. There will be times where one partner will have to be strong for the other.
2. Midlife Crisis
We as individuals change every seven years. There will come a time when each partner will have a midlife crisis where they person you thought you knew, changes. They grow, they are exposed to new ideas, they try new things, new hobbies. Or they might just become depressed and not know the reason.
I have worked with patients who have had gastric by-pass and lost large amounts of weight. About 80% of marriages where one person loses 100lbs or more end up divorced in 2 years. Even making changes to be MORE healthy can create dramatic problems in a marriage.
While not a traumatic as #1, this one is more insidious as it is easy for the partners to blame each other and not "understand" why this is happening and what each partner should do about it.
It is also easy to fall in the trap of believing that you are the reason for your partner's happiness and if they are no longer happy it must be your fault!
As if making a commitment to one person for the rest of your life isn't a big enough challenge, raising kids adds an entire new level of complexity. You now have the additional stress of sleep deprivation, change of hormones, libido, and the compromise of different styles of parenting based on how you were raised.
I never expected how different raising kids in latin american is compared to the midwest! Dinner was at 5 pm, you ate what was prepared during meal time and if you didn't you went hungry. My wife seems like a short order chef making different meals, chasing the kids around the house with a spoonful of food and worrying that they are not eating enough.
Not to mention how many times you have to make medical decisions about your kids with imperfect information. Do you run to the urgent care or is he or she just trying to get some attention?
Kids create an almost endless series of decisions to be negotiated and decided upon as a couple. Marriages and relationships are often placed on the back burner to being almost totally lost when children arrive.
I almost changed this one to "power" as money is really just a physical manifestation of power exchange within the relationship. Now that woman have the opportunity to be be the primary money makers in a relationship the power dynamic becomes something completely new that few are really prepared to deal with as there are no role models.
A large portion of my coaching clients are woman who make more money than their husbands and they have trouble solving this issue in their marriage because there is not template to follow. They have to make it up themselves.
Money also creates a issues when there is a drastic change in income from a partner being fired, laid off, or choosing a different career that may not represent their maximum earning potential.
What happens if you or you partner change careers, go back to school or switch from employee to entrepreneur can have huge affects on marriage.
Every newlywed things love and sex will be this hot and passionate as always. Few people understand how desire, romance, and attachment work in the brain. Its a 2-4 year high that happens once with a partner and then fades.
Few partners maintain a balance happy sex life. All the reasons above affect sex and libido first until sex becomes its own issue. Libido in both sexes waxes and wanes over time and committing to one partner can be a blessing and curse. It allows for deeper intimacy and utter boredom.
Both individuals are evolving as sexual beings throughout their life and the only constant is that your sex life will change. It is up to you about how open you can be in making that change together and staying open and honest about your desires with your partner.
Shutting down, repressing, and ignoring your desires is a sure way to marital ruin. Often a partner will withhold their desires to "protect" their partner from the side of themselves they feel is unlovable or threatening to the other. The only path to success is remaining open communicating all your desires openly and honestly with your partner and then working on how to satisfy each other.
Learning to deal with all things sexual in an open and honest manner is key ingredient to a happy and lasting marriage.
There is nothing traditional about this marriage issues except our tradition to ignore them until they tear us apart.
Thursday June 4th at 7 PM I will be giving a 30 minute talk on "5 Alternatives To Traditional Marriage" at Night School.
Click here to learn more and register for the event. Early bird pricing ends tomorrow (5/28) at 5PM.
Call, email, text, or pm me for an upgrade to VIP seating!