(I found this unfinished post from January 2012(!). I really did enjoy the article so I want to share the completed post with you.)
I made time to visit the local bookstore last weekend to flip through a few magazines (one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to stop buying magazines). I grabbed a few of my usual home decor magazines and as I was walking to the seating area, the title Are You with the Right Mate? on the cover of Psychology Today (a magazine I have never read) caught my attention, and I added the magazine to the pile. The article appears to be available online here if you’d like to read or skim it.
Some gems from the article:
What to do when the initial attraction sours? “I call it the first day of your real marriage,” Real says. It’s not a sign that you’ve chosen the wrong partner. It is the signal to grow as an individual—to take responsibility for your own frustrations.
For many, physical attraction is very important in a relationship. I tend to fall for men who are like me: they don’t necessarily meet society’s definition of attractive, but it doesn’t bother me because how someone makes me feel is way more important than what others think of his appearance. I love the idea of taking responsibility for your own frustrations…it’s easy to blame the other person instead of asking what has changed within you to cause your initial attraction (or theirs) to fade.
The fading attraction referred to isn’t only physical: the corny jokes or ‘charming’ habit are always cute at first but when the honeymoon period ends, you’re reminded of how annoying you’d find those traits in anybody else.
In mature love, says Meinecke, “we do not look to our partner to provide our happiness, and we don’t blame them for our unhappiness. We take responsibility for the expectations that we carry, for our own negative emotional reactions, for our own insecurities, and for our own dark moods.”
This is such a great reminder, even for the unmarried who are perhaps meeting “potentials”. It’s easy to blame someone else when your needs are not (or are no longer) being met. I’ve thought in the past that the right guy for me will work hard to help me overcome my insecurities about my weight, as if all the assurances in the world from a man would make me less insecure. Hah! My insecurity is my problem, and it is up to me to manage it. Of course a good man should do his part to support me in gaining confidence in myself but when I start behaving like it’s one of his responsibilities, that’s wrong.
(2013 update: I’m no longer insecure about my weight as far as it relates to finding a husband. I’m a wonderful catch right this minute, and will never lose weight to increase the number of men who show interest in me. I am thankful that I have no health issues. I want to lose weight healthily and permanently and include daily exercise as a part of my life. I don’t mind if my method is slow.
Reading the comments about my appearance in the last entry was hurtful at first because they were so unexpected, but overall I’m unfazed: the comments do not change how I feel about myself.)
No one is going to get all their needs met in a relationship, he insists. He urges fundamental acceptance of the person we choose and the one who chooses us. “We’re all flawed. With parenting, we know that comes with the territory. With spouses, we say ‘This is terrible.'”
Read those words again. Let those sentences soak into you. I feel like men are better at truly accepting the person they have chosen as wife, while women tend to secretly (or not so secretly!) hope the guy will change. I am praying for the ability to truly accept the man that I choose one day. I don’t expect a man to meet all my needs, and anything I cannot accept, I make clear during the courting stage.
“Marriage is not about finding the right person. It’s about becoming the right person. Many people feel they married the wrong person, but I’ve learned that it’s truly about growing to become a better husband.”
I love how the idea of growing in a relationship is emphasized here. We change as our relationships progress, and sometimes unexpected things cause these changes to happen sooner or in a more life-altering way than we expect. A couple who always wanted biological children may discover they cannot have children, or maybe a couple ends up with a special-needs child. A severe illness could strike one half of a couple, changing the entire dynamic of their relationship. The hope is of course that these changes won’t jeopardize the integrity of the relationship, but this isn’t always the case.
But “drifting apart,” “poor communication,” and “we’re just not compatible anymore” are in a completely different category. Such “soft reasons,” he insists, are, by contrast, always two-way streets. “Nobody gets all the soft goodies in life,” he finds. “It’s often better to work on subtle ways to improve the relationship.”
This quote is so counter to today’s society! How many of your friends or parents’ friends have ended relationships using words like “we drifted apart” or “we realized we’re incompatible”? Both people in the relationship have to be willing to work on these “soft reasons” otherwise I don’t see how a relationship can be maintained. Relationships are work. Moving from single to married just means taking on a different set of issues that must be dealt with.
Although the article was geared toward married couples, I found a lot in there for singles. And I for one have taken notes.