The Fairy Tale Ending And Misconceptions


The Fairy Tale Ending And Misconceptions

Its hard not to become jaded about anyone's ability to have healthy or fulfilling romantic relationships in my line of work. As a counselor, I spend a lot of time listening to people talk about what's "wrong" with their marriages. They talk about their unmet needs, the big and small things that bother them, how their expectations were so different, and how they just wanted "happily ever after." They talk about present spouses and former ones and how they hoped "this time" would be different from any other relationship they ever had.

I know there must have been a time when things were different, when they were happy and "in love" and believed the best in each other. When I ask about such times, it seems like its hard for them to even remember how things were then. Some couples hang in there and find the good again. Others call it quits. Sometimes, the decision is about big stuff like addiction, abuse, affairs, or other types of irresponsibility or selfishness. Most of the time, though, its smaller things. People don't show enough sensitivity to each other's needs. They get caught up in raising the kids and become roommates and parents rather than still being spouses. They don't make time to nurture their relationship and grow apart. They don't treat each other with caring and lose respect for each other, get stuck in patterns of keeping score about who has done more or who has hurt the other more, or simply disconnect emotionally.

Fortunately, I do get to hear happier stories sometimes. Occasionally, someone will come to see me about a problem that has nothing to do with their marriage. They tell me they are married to someone who is friend and lover and partner. They describe how they've faced challenges and how they continue to have a strong relationship. Some of these marriages are still young while others have been with their spouse for twenty years or more. Either way, their spouses are sources of support and strong positives in their lives. These people always hasten to say that their marriages aren't perfect, but they also are quick to say they would marry that person again and are thankful for the life they have together. It always warms my heart to hear those stories and keeps me from getting so cynical about what marriage is like.

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