Have you ever asked this question of yourself?
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.
|Maggie Baumann, M.A., is a marriage family therapist intern working as a counselor in a private practice in Newport Beach as well as at The Victorian in Newport Beach, a residential treatment facility providing care to women struggling with eating disorders, addictions and body image. Maggie has written for various publications and appeared on national television promoting eating disorder awareness and prevention. She also facilitates an eating disorder support group in Newport Beach. You can reach Maggie by email or visit her website at MaggieBaumann.com.|