By Dr. John Demartini – Educator, human behavior specialist and author of numerous books including the title – The Heart of Love.
“The biggest causes of marriage breakdowns are from idealisms and romantic notions. We are all looking for the perfect relationship, but as long as we set unrealistic ideals and project them onto potential partners, we will live in quiet desperation, feeling constantly disappointed when they don’t live up to our perceived expectations. These ideals often come from Hollywood movies and bedtime stories that end in “happily ever after.” You imagine everyone around you is experiencing the fairytale, but you.
Women tend to fantasize about the knight in shining armor, or Brad Pitt. When they end up with a regular guy with a beer belly, they sub-consciously punish him for it because he doesn’t match their fantasy. Men have their fantasies too. She needs to look like the centre spread of Playboy and never grow old. However, going after this dream will cost him love if he stays and money if he goes. If we live by impossible fantasies, we’ll experience extreme emotional swings, instead of balanced love.
We also tend to look for a mate who is much like ourselves. But consider this: If two people are the same, one of them is not necessary.
“There are three types of relationships, but only one of them really works. You’ve got the careless relationship where you project and focus on your own values without considering your partner’s. Then there is the careful relationship. This is when you think in terms of your partners values without considering your own. This relationship often feels like you are walking on eggshells. The third type is the caring relationship and is one where you communicate your values in terms of your partner’s values.
When we talk about values we don’t mean morals and ethics. We are referring to the things you hold most valuable in your life and your values are determined by your conscious or sub-conscious voids (what you perceive as most missing from your life). In other words, you only seek money if you perceive you are lacking in wealth, you will put a high value on travel if you generally feel confined etc. Fulfillment means filling full your perceptually empty voids.
The most successful marriages are ones that are balanced with equal amounts of support and challenge. We need this equilibrium of positive and negative in order to grow and evolve. It’s therefore crucial to understand that we all own and display all personality traits such as generous and mean, kind and cruel, considerate and inconsiderate etc., in equal quantities. Too often we expect our partner to be a one-sided being – only kind and considerate, but this will only lead to frustration, disappointment and withdrawal when your partner inevitably expresses the other side. It is wiser to ask the question “where do I have the trait I am judging my partner for” and “how does my partner expressing that trait benefit me in my daily life”? As long as you answer; I don’t have that trait and it doesn’t benefit me when they do it, you will begin to harbor resentment and get caught in a stance. But as soon as you breakthrough the limitation of your perception, you will move into the dance, which will assist your marriage to grow in maturity and mutual appreciation.
Make a list of your highest values. It could be money, children, religion etc. Then ask yourself how your values can assist your partner with their values and vice versa. When you distinguish how you are assisting each other with your dreams, you will feel a deeper connection and an increased appreciation for the one you are with.
Many people ask me what if the partner you are with is not your true soul mate. While the answer ‘find a new one’ may spring to many a mind, I suggest there is no need to look beyond your existing relationship to find true love and fulfillment.
So the secret to a lasting and fulfilling marriage is – when you learn to love who you’re with, they turn into who you love.”
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