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Did You Marry the Right Person?

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Have you ever asked this question of yourself?

unhappy couple

Maggie Baumann, M.A.: When you're walking down the wedding aisle, there are very few people who'd second-guess their vows of "I do."

After you've been married some time, have you ever thought, "Did I marry the right person?"

As a family therapist, I work with individuals who pose that question often. Even for myself, someone who has been married 25 years, I've probably had that thought when my relationship with my husband has hit a rocky road. And likewise, my husband was thinking the same of me.

I think this question can be answered when we understand more of how a cycle of a marriage works. I came across an interesting forwarded e-mail that described this marriage cycle. A quick search turned up the author: marriage expert Mort Fertel. I thought it was so interesting that I wanted to share it with the momlogic community.

Read on -- and see if you married the right person.

EVERY relationship has a cycle. In the beginning, you fell in love with your spouse. You anticipated their call, wanted their touch, and liked their idiosyncrasies.

Falling in love with your spouse wasn't hard. In fact, it was a completely natural and spontaneous experience. You didn't have to DO anything. That's why it's called "falling" in love ... Because it's happening TO YOU.

People in love sometimes say, "I was swept off my feet." Think about the imagery of that expression. It implies that you were just standing there, doing nothing, and then something came along and happened TO YOU.

Falling in love is easy. It's a passive and spontaneous experience. But after a few years of marriage, the euphoria of love fades. It's the natural cycle of EVERY relationship. Slowly but surely, phone calls become a bother (if they come at all), touch is not always welcome (when it happens), and your spouse's idiosyncrasies, instead of being cute, drive you nuts.

The symptoms of this stage vary with every relationship, but if you think about your marriage, you will notice a dramatic difference between the initial stage when you were in love and a much duller or even angry subsequent stage.

At this point, you and/or your spouse might start asking, "Did I marry the right person?" And as you and your spouse reflect on the euphoria of the love you once had, you may begin to desire that experience with someone else. This is when marriages break down. People blame their spouse for their unhappiness and look outside their marriage for fulfillment.

Extramarital fulfillment comes in all shapes and sizes. Infidelity is the most obvious. But sometimes people turn to work, a hobby, a friendship, excessive TV, or abusive substances.

But the answer to this dilemma does NOT lie outside your marriage. It lies within it. I'm not saying that you couldn't fall in love with someone else. You could.

And TEMPORARILY, you'd feel better. But you'd be in the same situation a few years later. Because (listen carefully to this):

THE KEY TO SUCCEEDING IN MARRIAGE IS NOT FINDING THE RIGHT PERSON -- IT'S LEARNING TO LOVE THE PERSON YOU FOUND.

SUSTAINING love is not a passive or spontaneous experience. It'll NEVER just happen to you. You can't "find" LASTING love. You have to "make" it day in and day out. That's why we have the expression "the labor of love."

Because it takes time, effort, and energy. And most importantly, it takes WISDOM. You have to know what to do to make your marriage work.

Make no mistake about it. Love is NOT a mystery. There are specific things you can do (with or without your spouse) to succeed with your marriage.

Just as there are physical laws of the universe (such as gravity), there are also laws for relationships. Just as the right diet and exercise program makes you physically stronger, certain habits in your relationship WILL make your marriage stronger. It's a direct cause and effect. If you know and apply the laws, the results are predictable ... you can "make" love.

Love in marriage is indeed a "decision" ... Not just a feeling. "No one falls in love by choice, it is by CHANCE. No one stays in love by chance, it is by WORK. And no one falls out of love by chance, it is by choice."

Thanks to Mort Fertel for those words of wisdom.


10 comments so far | Post a comment now
Rachel January 5, 2010, 6:06 AM

Thank you! It’s so nice to read this after reading all the other garbage on this site the past month or so (i.e., the faceless blogger (can’t remember the name) who fell in “love” with her friend’s husband and tore apart her family). Finally something reasonable to read!

Jenny Marsh January 5, 2010, 8:39 AM

Great article- only one complaint - what are the rules I’m supposed to be applying to make myt marriage work - although its lasted ten years so far so we must be doing something right (!)

Jenny January 5, 2010, 9:39 AM

Finally a quality, wholesome article from this site!

Wendi January 5, 2010, 12:30 PM

Good article, some tips about what it is you need to apply in the marriage would be good.

Lindsaydianne January 5, 2010, 11:01 PM

I agree with the above comments in that this was one of the first enjoyable reads I’ve seen come down the Twitter pipe from momlogic. More In this helpful direction and less smut! ;)

rugbymom January 12, 2010, 8:23 AM

Great article. Obviously I’m not the only one who thinks so. Thank you for that.

tennmom January 12, 2010, 5:36 PM

I met my late-husband when I was 14,married him when I was 20. He was not the right person for me but I felt as though I would be a failure if I dated someone for that long & didn’t marry that person. Fifteen years into the marriage, I knew I couldn’t do the “until death do us part” thing with that man.
He died when our daughters were 3 and 5.
I knew that my “Now” husband was the right person for me 2 years before we married, or I would not have married him. Older, wiser and such.

PT January 23, 2010, 6:24 PM

The altruistic fantasy in our culture is that it doesn’t matter who you marry— just learn to love the person that you married. The reality is that you should be very concerned about the starting point of the marriage— is that person reasonably compatible with you? Does this person have certain basic life skills that are important to me? Does this person have adequate resources for the quality of life that I would like? Can I deal with this person’s family and their influence on the person that I will marry?

Trying to convince yourself to love someone that is amiss of what you honestly want for yourself is invitation to a torturous marriage and possibly divorce. No one is perfect, but some are better suited to marry (you) than others.


PT January 23, 2010, 6:28 PM

Another altruistic fantasy in our culture is that one should marry his/her “best friend.” I have seen marriages where that “friend” was not suitable as a spouse. Friendship is important, without question. However, friendship alone does not automatically translate into the character qualities that befit the one to whom you commit your life in the bond of marriage. Some people really are good friends, but in the intimacy of marriage, lousy spouses.

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