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Switch to Forum Live View Are there any successful relationships/marriages?
4 years ago  ::  May 26, 2010 - 4:59PM #41
appy20
Posts: 10,165

May 26, 2010 -- 3:18PM, Cesmom wrote:


"Successful" is such a subjective term...means something different to everyone.


I mean, sometimes, my husbands flaws get to me so much that it drives me nuts.  I don't have much use for his jealous and insecure behavior, so that can build up walls between us.  He is moody and often incosiderate to others.  I don't have much use for people who are inconsiderate...you know, the ones who cut you off in traffic and look at you like it was YOUR fault and that sort of thing.  He often speaks before he thinks, causing hurt feelings or bad impulse decisions.  He can't stick to a budget to save his own life.  I could go on about the little things that make my blood boil, and some days I do let that get the best of me and it causes fights and causes me to have my doubts.


Then I look at the positives...the guy who coaches our kids and makes me dinner and does his fair share of housework and is a good father and is completely faithful.  He doesn't spend time out drinking with his buddies or tinkering with cars in the garage...he spends time with his family.  That is where he wants to be.  Those traits are what attracted me to him in the first place, and they still exist 16 years into our marriage.  I consider that pretty successful.


Do we have bad days?  Yes.  But I would say our marriage is successful.  I think it's sad to think that someone has never witnessed an example of a successful marriage.  Some things I see some women put up with in the name of 'love' are pretty bad.  But there are definitely successful marriages out there.  It's all a matter of finding the right partner, giving it a sincere effort, and setting realistic expectations.





Exactly.  I have seen good marriages in the past but in my age group, I am just not seeing them anymore.  Too much drug use, too much alcoholism, too much adultery, too much physical abuse. Too much control, too much lack of respect. 


One thing that really turns me off is a man or woman speaking with condescension to their spouse.  To me, that is not successful but it may not bother them at all.   


It is a relative term.

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4 years ago  ::  May 26, 2010 - 5:33PM #42
ArnieBeeGut
Posts: 1,407

Both "successful" and "happy" are of course completely subjective. As has been pointed out, feelings belong exclusively to the one having them. So if I feel happy, sad, lonely, etc. then that's how I feel. If someone says that I shouldn't feel that way, it is more a statement about them then about me. On the other hand, I may be out of touch with my feelings or in denial - so if I say I'm happy but my tone of voice, facial expression, and body language say otherwise, then I may be trying to put on a "happy face." This doesn't change the fact that each is the only 'expert' on their own feelings. (There are approaches to interpersonal communication that can facilitate someone getting in touch with feelings they may be unaware o, but that is a different matter altogether).

"Successful" and "happy" are not necessarily synonymous in marriage. The difficulty is that any long-term relationship (such as marriage) is in fact a process, not an end-state. In that sense, "happily ever after" is indeed a myth.

Studies indicate that most marriages cycle through a number of stages - the exact number depends on who is counting, but there are four stages that match what I have experienced and observed.

First is the "romance" stage in which everything is easy and the couple seems fused. This is the "in-love" part. Hollywood and the media give the impression that this is where it ends, but studies indicate it lasts 18 months at the most.

The second can be called "disillusionment" and despite its negative-sounding connotation is actually a positive step for a couple. This is where the masks that each person wears in the romance stage starts to slip off, and also the fantasy of the ideal partner that have been projected onto the other begins to fade away. It is a positive step because it is becoming more "real" - seeing the other more for who they are than the rose-colored vision previously. Although more real, it brings up difficult feelings because one (or both) partners starts to recognize that the other is "not the person I married." They are actually, it's just that love is blind and it wasn't seen. For a couple in this stage one often hears one (or both) say "I love you but I'm not in-love with you." (or words to that effect)

Left unchecked, the couple often descends into the "misery" stage in which nearly all vestiges of the positive attributes are not recognized and only the negative aspects of one's spouse are perceived. This is the point where the couple typically divorces, one (or both) has an affair, or they settle into a cold war. In a way it is the negative image of the romance stage, since now no positive qualities are seen, only negative ones.

Although many marriages end here, in most cases they don't have to. The fourth stage can be called "reawakening to joy." In it, there is a deepening of intimacy and a more complete and realistic perception of both oneself as well as one's spouse. Instead of blaming the other, each takes responsibility for the role they played in the period of unhappiness. Intimacy in this case is sharing who one is with another and allowing them to be who they are as well. Since each person is a mixture of light and darkness, intimacy means knowing and sharing both sides of oneself, as well as accepting both in one's partner.

It would be comforting to believe that this is the end state - and it is not. Typically after another "honeymoon" period, the cycle starts again, except with different issues.

It is completely possible to take a couple deep in misery and in a few days of intense work, bring them to the point where they can see the possibilities of joy. I know this for a fact, since I have witnessed it both in my own marriage as well as in others. The key is in learning to share difficult or painful feelings with one's spouse without criticizing or blaming. When that happens, intimacy deepens to an even greater extent than when sharing positive feeling (although that is beneficial as well).

One of the many gifts this brings is the recognition of how much we project our own feelings and roundedness onto others, especially our partner. Indeed, most of the "problems" in marriage are not couple issues but individual issues brought into the relationship by each person. The process of healing the relationship through deepened intimacy is also very healing to each person individually.

So for me, "successful" means choosing to commit to this process however it unfolds in my marriage. It means being committed to sharing more and more of myself with my wife, and learning more and more about her. "Happy" is something I feel some of the time - and more of the time recently. And sometimes I feel unhappy or discouraged as well. I have learned that my wife is not responsible for my feelings, I am. "Success" means continuing on this journey and is not a "place" we will wind up.

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4 years ago  ::  May 27, 2010 - 4:10PM #43
appy20
Posts: 10,165

Now, I have never said that another should not feel happy or think the way I do.  I don't consider it discourteous if people have a different viewpoint than me.  That still does not obligate me to  consider what they have as successful.   If a woman likes being beaten up or cheated on, that is certainly their right.  If they need abuse, adultery, substance abuse to be happy, more power to them.  However, I can't consider it successful.  

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4 years ago  ::  May 27, 2010 - 4:20PM #44
Cesmom
Posts: 5,097

Sure, but don't you think it's at least a wee bit cynical to assume that there are few to no successful relationships.  I mean, it sounds like you have exposure to a pretty specific group of people who probably don't represent relationships in general

Our need to learn should always outweigh our need to be right

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren't so busy denying them.
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4 years ago  ::  May 27, 2010 - 4:42PM #45
appy20
Posts: 10,165

 I haven't seen a good relationship in my age group in 27 years.  Most men over 40, here, drink too much.  That is a huge problem.  Others do drugs, cheat, etc.  When you work with men, you often know about their dalliances with other women.  Their wives often don't.  More and more women are acting like jerks too by getting caught up in the same vices.  Most married women I have worked with are horribly unhappy.


I really do think most marriages are pretty dismal.  That is what I see.  I haven't seen enough of anything else to make me want to do it.  It isn't that I don't think it sad. I do.  I do think it sad. 


I genuinely do wish I saw less of the social problems.  The social problems are very real.  They do exist.  I work with the general public, I see a lot of it.  I put some flyers for abused women in the bathrooms recently.  There were some tags women could tear off if they wanted to call someone if they were abused.  In 48 hours, we had three tags picked off.  Now, in 48 hours, we probably only had 4 women use our bathroom.  That is how bad it is.


Most of my friends who were married divorced due to either alcoholism or adultery.  


Even if I don't want marriage, I still wish others had better marriages.  I don't need marriages to be bad.  They just look awful.


 

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4 years ago  ::  May 28, 2010 - 12:02AM #46
Kerygma
Posts: 798

My wife and I have a very loving relationship. We enjoy being together whether we travel or just hang out. It's been a wonderful twelve years and God willing we'll have many more. One thing about our marriage is that we believe strongly that our marriage is a sacrament. Our faith is mutual and we pray together as well as share our faith with one another.  It has strengthened our marriage.

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4 years ago  ::  May 28, 2010 - 11:45AM #47
ArnieBeeGut
Posts: 1,407

A wise saying is (imo) "We see the world not as it is but as we are." If there is a certain belief, then it is natural to look only for "evidence" that supports that belief and discount any evidence contrary to that belief. Problems are "real" only to the extent that we make them "real." The choice is ours to make.  This is important as a couple journeys through the stages of marriage I describe in a previous post, since typically what helps move a relationship from misery to joy is nothing more than a shift in perspective. Somehow, the time in the "desert" (misery) seems necessary for a true deepening of the relationship. It is difficult to understand if one has not experienced or witnessed it. A young couple in love can hardly believe that there are also lurking feelings of anger or even hate as well; a couple deep in misery can't believe that the erstwhile loving feelings are still present, only in hibernation for a time. Without having experienced any of this, one is like a blind man having the concept of "red" being explained; at some level there can be no understanding without a reference point.  Like people, all relationships are a mixture of darkness and light; the "joy" in a relationship comes with celebrating and accepting both the light and the dark in oneself as well as in one's spouse. Indeed, the process of journeying through all of that is what offers the opportunity to gain a deeper knowledge of (and healing of) one's own self.  People are capable of incredible healing, and so are relationships with the right kind of guidance and effort. Successful marriages don't just happen any more than a work of art just magically appears or a building poof into existence without planning, obtaining resources, and doing the necessary work. The extent to which the work is done is the extent to which the results are evident; not doing the work leads to decay and decline, just like what will happen to an automobile if it is not regularly  maintained.

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4 years ago  ::  May 28, 2010 - 3:52PM #48
appy20
Posts: 10,165

I am not claiming that my experience is everyone else's experience but I will argue that my experience is just as valid and does not need to be defended.  I also think you are overgeneralizing when you say that just because someone has not experienced a marriage it means that they have no clue as to what they want in a relationship and don't have the right to define what a successful relationship is.  Single people do tend to go through a period of paying their dues in an attempt to discover what they can and cannot live with.  Many of us do figure out what price is too high.  Relationships that pay that price are not entitled to be accepted by other people who may want something different.  All that "growth" does not always translate into a worthwhile life.  Life is too short to be miserable.  Few manage to succeed.


 Your point of view is that people who fail are at fault. That relationships should be saved at all costs.  I disagree.  My view is that the "institution" itself leaves a lot to be desired.  If a bridge collapsed 65% of the time it was crossed, the cars would not be considered defective.  I don't think people are failures or aren't trying hard enough when marriages fail. I think marriage just isn't all it is cracked up to be.  


I am not asking for married people to defend their relationship.  They have very right to consider it successful but I have the right to say it isn't my cup of tea.  I have a right to look at what you have and not consider it successful.  You don't have to be hit by a car to know that you don't want to be hit by a car.  You can see the results.  You can see the result of the "growth" and decide whether the process is worthwhile.  For me, it isn't.


Your subjective experience is no more or less accurate than mine. You have no more right to one than I do.   


 


 

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4 years ago  ::  May 28, 2010 - 4:04PM #49
Tolerant Sis
Posts: 4,201

I think it is harder to understand what makes a relationship successful from the outside of it.  That may not be apparent even to people who have been married for long periods and have good marriages of their own.  To disagree with Tolstoy, each happy marriage and family is NOT alike, but it is difficult for someone outside of the charmed circle to recognize what makes it successful.


For instance, one of the things that makes our relationship successful is the uncanny degree to which my husband and I are often thinking the same thing at the exact same moment.  We will suddenly burst out laughing about something, both recalling the same memory, or the same story, or the same television episode, or the same song lyrics.  


Few people not privy to the marriage or the family life would recognize that.  


Having said that, I *do* think it is difficult for someone who hasn't experienced a marriage or a long-term intimate relationship, to understand the give and take of such a relationship, just as women who have never been mothers have difficulty understanding why ANYONE would put up with what mothers put up with.  

First amendment fan since 1793.
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4 years ago  ::  May 28, 2010 - 4:41PM #50
appy20
Posts: 10,165

May 28, 2010 -- 4:04PM, Tolerant Sis wrote:


I think it is harder to understand what makes a relationship successful from the outside of it.  That may not be apparent even to people who have been married for long periods and have good marriages of their own.  To disagree with Tolstoy, each happy marriage and family is NOT alike, but it is difficult for someone outside of the charmed circle to recognize what makes it successful.


For instance, one of the things that makes our relationship successful is the uncanny degree to which my husband and I are often thinking the same thing at the exact same moment.  We will suddenly burst out laughing about something, both recalling the same memory, or the same story, or the same television episode, or the same song lyrics.  


Few people not privy to the marriage or the family life would recognize that.  


Having said that, I *do* think it is difficult for someone who hasn't experienced a marriage or a long-term intimate relationship, to understand the give and take of such a relationship, just as women who have never been mothers have difficulty understanding why ANYONE would put up with what mothers put up with.  




Actually, I think the problem is that married people put so much into their marriages that they don't want their relationship critiqued.  They all want to be "successful" because they lasted but that just isn't the truth. Some married people didn't see things coming and that is why they got themselves in the mess they did.  Some of us did see things coming and avoided it.  I don't think a relationship where a person is physically abused is a successful relationship. I don't have to be married to see and understand that.  Same for alcoholism, adultery, drug abuse, etc.  We don't have to experience it to understand that it isn't healthy.  

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