My goodness! What happened here?!
Perspectives by Linda/Linda Criser, Wichita, KS
It's a beautiful summer day. She's wearing her most cheerful sundress. Someone gave her a flower. But somehow, it's not good enough.
This precious little girl is running to her mother for comfort and, undoubtedly, will be laughing in the next photo. But how do adults handle feelings of disenchantment? When our perfect love song hits a sour note, to whom do we run for comfort? When our marriage lacks that old je ne sais quoi, what do we do?
Readers of Everybody Marries the Wrong Person already know that infatuation is temporary, disenchantment is inevitable, and mature love is essential to marital satisfaction. (See previous posts - New Marriage Paradigm: Self-responsible Spouse, How to Train Your Dragon, and The One and Only Marital Obligation.) Getting from disenchantment to mature love is simple. Not easy, of course, but the concept is simple.
From Disenchantment to Mature Love
Disenchantment results when spouses:
1. Hold unrealistic expectations based on conventional wisdom. For example:
- Spouses are supposed to fulfill each other's wants and needs.
- If I love, I will be equally loved in return.
- If you love me, you will change.
- My spouse will never treat me badly.
- True love conquers all.
2. Vent post-infatuation frustration, feelings of disenchantment.
- We feel like running and crying.
- Instead, we vent the "grown-up" way, verbally vandalizing our 'til-death-parts-us relationship.
3. Blame each other for marital dissatisfaction.
Mature love results when spouses behave self-responsibly, which means taking responsibility, minute-by-minute, for our own happiness and unhappiness. Self-responsible spouses:
- Refute conventional wisdom about romantic relationships.
- Meet their own wants and needs.
- Learn to comfort themselves, when feeling disenchanted.
- Wrestle unrealistic expectations to the ground.
- Censor unhealthy reactions.
Of course, we all deeply wish for life to be easy and expect our spouses to bust a gut making that wish come true. As deflating and daunting as it may initially seem, giving up the fantasy is a first step toward self-responsibility. Learning to manage our emotional reactions, insecurities and dark moods leads to marital satisfaction.
If only one spouse behaves self-responsibly, both spouses benefit. If both spouses behave self-responsibly, marriages flourish.
For more on the book, visit - www.everybodymarriesthewrongperson.com