Marriage Is Not About Finding the Right Person But Becoming the Right Person

“(A man) attended an anniversary party for friends who had been together 25 years. When someone commented on the longevity of the relationship, the husband replied: “Every morning I wake up, splash cold water on my face, and say out loud, ‘Well, you’re no prize either.’” While you’re busy being disillusioned with your partner (sic) you’ll do better with a substantial dose of humility.”

Spouses disillusioned in marriage are often quick to assume they are married to the wrong person. In an article entitled, Are You With The Right Mate (from Psychology Today Online) doubting partners need to recognize that one can only change one’s self and that one is responsible for making one’s own happiness. Leaving is usually not the answer unless there is some serious pathology or an abusive situation. Rather, the article suggests, each spouse should take more responsibility for creating a better relationship, by throwing themselves into it in a positive, healthy way:

Marriage is not about finding the right person. It’s about becoming the right person…(sic)…Disillusionment becomes an engine for growth because it forces us to discover our needs. Knowing oneself, recognizing one’s needs, and speaking up for them in a relationship are often acts of bravery, says Page. Most of us are guarded about our needs, because they are typically our areas of greatest sensitivity and vulnerability.

I love the website, Cutting Edge Law because it focuses on the concept of integrative law – which is defined as the integration of the practices and methods of the adversarial system with newly emerging more humanistic, and relational approaches to law. Blogger Alexandria Skinner discusses the above-referenced article in her own article entitled, Conflict Transformation in Marriage and she is so spot-on. Conflict Transformation is a necessary skill for couples in long-term relationships to have. In our work in relationship mediation, Cary and I often see the inability to communicate needs and the negative communication patterns about “change” as the primary problem which leads to disillusionment and hopelessness in the marriage. Spouses are quick to believe that their spouse has changed in ways they cannot possibly understand or come to understand. However, evolution is unavoidable in relationships. People are going to change and each spouse must realize this and expect it in a positive way rather than see it as a threat. But this takes knowing yourself very well and communicating your needs in a positive way. When each spouse begins to live this way, each sees the other as a more dynamic, exciting person – a book still not finished and one you want to read through to the end.