Becoming a Couple
Everyone should marry three times:
once to leave home,
once to have children,
and once for companionship.
— Margaret Mead
Real Marriage for Real People
My guide and mentor, John W. Jacobs, M.D., the only other board-certified psychiatrist and Bowen Family Systems Theory (BFST) Relationship Coach and Consultant I know, wrote in his book All You Need Is Love and Other Lies about Marriage, “expectations of marriage are often so unrealistic that even the strongest of relationships [sometimes] doesn’t stand a chance.” Margaret Mead noted that “every woman needs three husbands: one for youthful sex, one for raising children, and one for joyful companionship”.
What if we could find one life partner for all three, sex, procreation and companionship? “Real marriage for real people” is a lifelong process that requires continuous reinvestment to be sustainable and long lasting. Dr. Jacobs articulates three basic factors that help maintain mutually satisfying marriages:
- 1. The careful and wise initial choice of a mate
- 2. A more realistic understanding of internal and external stressors
- 3. The ongoing willingness to address concerns, differences and dissatisfactions
So how to combine mindful awareness and romantic bliss? How best to consciously engage in our romantic, intimate partner relationship with presence and compassion? A six-week marriage preparation and enrichment educational program developed by Phil Guerin and colleagues at the Center for Family Life sets goals that include “teaching couples (1) how family relationships work, (2) the route that normal problems and personal relationships are likely to take, and (3) the options for dealing effectively with these difficulties over time.”
A reality-based view sees marriage as the ideal place for developing a Solid Self in Relationship. The journey to self-differentiation helps you learn to ask directly for what you want, calmly maintain your position in the face of criticism and disagreement, and develop appropriate responsibility for self rather than over-adequacy for others.
The problems, issues, and predicaments we all struggle with are not so much the problems, issues, and predicaments we all struggle with, as the difficulties we have in resolving them in a relationship context. The prescription for life enhancement is the active engagement in addressing one’s own unresolved emotional.
The practice of Mindful Relationships can help you be in relationship without taking on your partner’s “stuff”. Autonomy and connection become congruent rather than adversarial.
To learn more and/or schedule a consultation click here.