And were these reasons the right ones (for the long-term)?
In my couple counselling and mediation practice I invariably ask couples what initially attracted them to each other.
I am often struck by their responses when I consider these against the backdrop of their current relationship and the problems that they are currently experiencing.
Why is this?
I note often that the aspects of the partner that initially attracted their mate becomes a major bone of contention in their ongoing relationship and that in many cases individuals get married for the same reason as they get divorced! For example, an easy-going, devil-may-care lover may turn into a spouse who is criticized for being irresponsible and “flighty”, a generous and fun-loving individual may later be seen by their spouse as lacking financial self-discipline and someone who fails to consider the long-term security of the family.
It has been said that we are often attracted to personal characteristics in our partner that we, ourselves, lack. So a tidy, conscientious individual may be attracted to someone who is untidy and unreliable – the attraction of opposites. This may work fine in the early stages of a relationship when sexual attraction is strong, but I have found, when listening to my couples’ narratives about the development of their relationship, that when they settle down into domestic life and children enter the picture, these initial differences can become hugely divisive. These types of differences often become major issues and the cause of repetitive, ongoing arguments that rarely get adequately resolved. Relationships become seriously strained in many cases and couples find that their communication becomes strained and intimacy invariably suffers as a result.
Are you aware of couples that you know who are experiencing this type of dynamic or perhaps it is alive and well in your own relationship? If so, what can be done?
Well, if you are still in the dating stage, or are looking for a prospective long-term partner, perhaps it may be a good idea to widen your criteria to include characteristics in a would-be partner that would serve you, and your family, well in the long-term such kindness, generosity of spirit and a good sense of humour. Also I suggest you look out for other aspects such as how the person deals with anger and conflict, their interpersonal skills, level of empathy for others (and animals).
Also, if you have opposing views on crucial aspects, such as money and tidiness, for example, work out how you will confront these issues in a constructive way, going forward.
If you are in a well-established relationship, it may be a good idea to commit to respectful communication as away of resolving conflict. However, if you are caught in a negative, destructive communication dynamic, couple counselling could be considered in order to rehabilitate the relationship.