How Do You Love?
Ever wonder why some couples seem to always be in a state of marital bliss and their relationships stand the test of time while others seem to be plagued from the very beginning with many up and downs? It's sometimes true that opposites attract but if the opposition is too great often times after the initial passion sizzles away they are left with nothing but anger and confusion as to why they can't connect.
Right off the top I can think of a couple things that can help with a deeper connection like having similar upbringings, practicing the same faith and sometimes just growing up in similar geographical areas. But ultimately all those things just "help" keep you grounded once you're connected. The real key to marital success, I believe, is figuring out what kind of lover you are and what kind of lover your significant other is.
A key thing I ask clients to figure out the answer to is whether or not they are inward our outward lovers and to answer this you need to analyze the overall family structure you come from.
Here's the question to ask:
(Outward) Does/did your family focus on the good of the family first and the individual persons second or (Inward) does/did your family focus on the individuals first and overall family welfare second? And of course, be reasonable. A certain amount of self-love first is essential to every living person, so take one step away from that and then evaluate.
This focus is basically the general "feel" within the home. Is it one of community with each person being a contributing member of the whole or is the "emphasis" placed on the individual first with family coming together after or sometimes not at all?
People first experience chemical and biological responses that attract them to a mate. But those biological impulses can be tampered down by mitigating factors such as not feeling special, loved, or being ignored (or the opposite - feeling smothered) by the spouse. The problem here is that the spouses are giving love the only way they know how which are completely different perspectives and the two values don't usually sync up.
Often times married couples that come from similar homes that place the cohesive value of the family above the individual are more than likely going to experience success in their marriage. They are giving and receiving what each individual needs.
Likewise if two people come together from homes that place significant value on the individual over that of the family unit they too are likely to find success because they are operating from the same base values. They operate independently and come together when they need to. They are giving and receiving what each individual needs.
Where problems most often start to occur is when two people from homes with two differing value structures come together. That is, one person comes from a family-based value structure and the other person from an individual-based value structure.
Now, this is not to imply that one family structure is more right than the other, and certainly people can overcome the differences, but often it is just too much difference to overcome. It not only requires a person to identify what value structure they come from but then requires both to decide which person in the relationship needs to change. And usually it is easier said than done.
Again, we are talking about some basic core values that may be difficult if not impossible to change completely. And it is likely that the very thing that attracted you to the other person in the first place (qualities that you may not have) might be the one thing that ends up driving you apart. Obviously most people marry with the intent of having a long and lasting relationship. Unfortunately the hard work of sorting through matters that profoundly impact their future together often only occurs after there is a major trouble in paradise when in fact such matters should have been identified, discussed, and resolved prior to the marriage.
Ideally, examining and identifying your personal value structure, the personal value structure of your betrothed and how the two value structures relate to each of you (are you the same or not), before you marry can provide much insight and give you a considerable head start towards a long and rewarding relationship.
To recap, evaluate yours and your significant other's value structure, determine whether or not you have the same or differing value structures, and then make conscious decisions with the new information you have. If the value structure is the same, great, but if the value structure is different, can and will either of you be able to really change your value structure to reflect that of your partner? Either way you must make the conscious decision with the facts that you know and decide if you still want to make a life together or decide to move on and look for someone who identifies more closely with your own value structure. Again, it's not about right or wrong, it's about figuring out how you love and cohesion and quite possibly eliminating one potential major roadblock that might be standing in your way of marital bliss.