We get together for many reasons, and not always the right ones.
- Inevitably the question comes up… Is he or she the one? Let’s examine essential questions that can help you come to the right answer for yourself.
- You want to get this right when, even with the best efforts, it often goes wrong.
Let’s try to stack the deck in your favor.
Most of us are attracted to novelty because the mind loves it.
Sexual energy is stirred up by the new: new lips, new hips, new eyes, a new embrace and yes, new sex. So it is often not hard (forgive the pun) to get excited about a new romance. It’s one reason so many fail. People fall in love (including erotic love) with love and not with a person.
- The key is to be interested in your partner when the sense of newness fades away and intense interest begins.
- Attraction is of the body AND the mind.
Some people are attracted to partners that make them feel safe, while others are excited by that man or woman that they can never truly have. (This is how narcissists thrive!)
As time passes, note whether you remain interested in him or her. And if it’s because he’snot emotionally available, get some therapy. Such relationships may get you good sex, but he’ll inevitably drive you crazy when you sense that you are not as important to him as you may want.
For some, relationships transmute into friendships, where sex becomes a bit off-putting, if not incestuous. Even if you love her, try not to settle for this. With the addition of children, the partnership may grow, but not the lust. Without the glue of attraction, your partner may end up looking elsewhere.
Sex should be playful, creative and yet seriously exciting. You have to be able to let go. And, for many, foreplay is the most tender part, holding hands, stroking each other’s hair, feeling the other’s touch…a comfort of body on body.
So, you have been with her for some time. Are you still mad crazy about her body? Do you still want him, and want him again? If so, you have something.
Personalities can blend together well. They can clash as well. And even if the sex is great, not everyone can get along with you… and vice versa. Aristotle taught us the golden mean, and I think it works with relationships as well. Sometimes two extroverts simply require too much energy to thrive. Some of the happiest couples that I’ve known have abalance between introvert and extrovert.
One carries more color. One keeps things more stable.
Often, it’s nice to complement each other. She teaches you to get out more. He teaches you to enjoy the grounding of home. Over the long haul this kind of balance will play out well. If you are too far apart in the extrovert/introvert dynamic, then problems will arise as you both will fail to get your needs met.
Fit is about balance.
Ask yourself if you have a good fit with your potential partner.
After treating countless families and twenty & thirty year olds, it often comes down to what happens during a 24 hour period at home. Do you walk on eggshells? Are you completely comfortable in your own home? Or, do you carry some tension about how he or she may react to whatever may come up?
- Stay with people who co-inhabit an easy home life.
The world is tough enough out there. In fact, it’s a pretty cold place.
So your home needs to be a calm, happy respite at the end of the day. If you and your partner are arguing, tense, and never quite settled, please consider seeing a counselor. You are participating in a less than adequate relationship, which has the potential to get worse, particularly with the pressures of money and children. And sometimes people stick in such relationships because that is all they know from their own family of origins or they believe that they can fix a broken person. Watch out.
Go for a happy and easy home life.
Let the hard stuff happen elsewhere, like at work and such.
Get to know your partner’s parents.
How they interact with each other will give you a clue about how your partner will be with you. Do they show love and respect for each other? Or, is it a cold or cranky marriage? And, if they are divorced, get a sense how dignified they were in dealing with the divorce. How people leave partners they used to love says a lot about character. Some divorces work well. And some leave lasting… and open wounds.
While your partner may come from an unhappy background, get a sense whether he or she has truly dealt with the lack of trust or potential abuse experienced growing up.
- These wounds go deep and you don’t want to be the displaced object of hurt, anger or control.
There are few more terrible things than to be close to someone who carries a volcano of hurt or anger from the past. You will not be spared.
That being said, many people from wounded backgrounds, whether it’s divorce, abuse or even from an intact family with high conflict, can and do develop the determination to do it better with their beloved. Great therapy can truly help.
Just make sure that he or she has done the work.
Everyone has issues. Yes, everyone.
When you are intimate with someone you enter what I have previously called, The Field of Intimacy. It is like a special field where you feel close to your partner and he to you. It is because of that special field that the good feelings of love and attraction come about.
The flipside is that there is no one – and I mean on one – who can hurt you like the one you love. The Field of Intimacy opens people up to love and validation. It also opens us up to hurt, disappointment, and often, abandonment fears.
If you or your partner have a psychiatric disorder it is crucial to have complete transparency. Most disorders are completely treatable, as long as the patient is steadfast in their treatment. So, you don’t want to dismiss a person with an anxiety disorder, mood disorder or an addiction out of hand. It depends on how it manifests and how your partner takes control of it.
Good relationships require two imperfect people helping each other go forward.
If your partner understands his or her problem, and can help you see what’s what, then welcome to the complexities of a good relationship.
If on the other hand, he or she has a psychiatric issue that being hidden from you,consider buying a ticket out of the relationship.
The main stressors in marriage, aside from compatibility, are sex and money.
You must be able to talk about money openly. What are your expectations…and hers? Do you have a sense of how income will be coming in? Will one of you stay home when children enter the scene?
It is often tough to talk about money because it raises anxiety for all involved and sound trite. If you can’t deal with this productively, please consider a pre-marital counselor who can help you get a sense of how you both want to live. You can avoid some nasty disappointments, if you talk a bit early on.
With regard to old relationships, ask yourself whether he or she had longstanding relationships or not? You want to be with a person who understands in his or her gut, what it means to enjoy a long-term relationship year after year.
On the other hand, you don’t want to be caught in a rebound situation, which happens more than we might like to think.
- You want him to love you for you. Not just because he needs someone now.
The relationship may still work, but the dice is loaded against you because she is entering the relationship to avoid feeling of loss, rather than because she’s enthralled with you. Once again, couples counseling may be helpful to tease out what’s going on.
If you are marrying with children involved, an ex-spouse may be in the picture. If they are your children, you will have to deal with the complexities of what they should call your partner (not Dad or Mom), and how you will parent together knowing that there is another parent out there who may have a different opinion.
Re-blended families are doable, but not without work.
Finally, look carefully at how the two of you handle conflict.
Do you avoid it? Does one of you stuff their feelings? What triggers each of you? Are you or your potential partner so defensive there’s never a sorry, or a repair of a wrong?
And how long does it take for the two of you to come back to equilibrium?
- Some couples bounce back quickly.
- Some hold onto resentment for a long time, only to strike again when provoked.
How you fight and make up is part and parcel of compatibility and making an easy going home. If it’s hard to deal with conflict or one of you needs to win at the other’s expense, consider getting help – or leaving. It only gets harder when kids, money, illness and outside pressures challenge your marriage.