JK Therapy

Are there really healthy marriages or do we all just settle?

They had been dating for about two years. They met at a local friend’s Fourth of July back yard BBQ. They were the only ones whom the host did not know from work. Talk of programming and outsourcing left them on the sidelines truly positioned to seek comfort in the other.

The past two years seemed to fly by for Sally and Dave as they lived up their early twenties as a care free committed couple enjoying summers down the shore, winter weekends skiing and spontaneous trips to a warmer climate to break up the monotony of the cold NJ winters. They were always on the go and liked it that way. They had the same ideals on lifestyle, careers, how to manage money, family and friends. They had a great way of communicating addressing whatever concerns they had immediately, finding a solution and moving on. This was the “easiest” relationship they both been in: no more drawn out fights that would last for days even weeks, no more silent treatment, no more screaming matches, no more walking on egg shells, no more disrespect. They were in a healthy relationship and at peace in both of their lives.

The following fall they moved in together and began to receive daily invitations to weddings for the spring. When Sally and Dave met they discussed marriage and the fact that it was not in the near future for either of them. They wanted to enjoy the time they had together getting to know each other before they discussed marriage. They both eventually wanted to get married and have a family but felt they needed to make sure the other met their essential relationship and life needs for a lifelong time of happiness. They did not want to settle and eventually get tired of their needs not being met and divorce.

At dinner they discussed the wedding invitations. They were surprised at the couples who had decided to take the next step and get married. The first wedding was in April, James and Laura’s. They had broken up three times in the last 2 years and have been dating for a total of 3 years. The reason they broke up was to “explore other options.” Would complacency eventually cause a divorce between the two as they would always be looking for someone who would better meet their needs?

The next wedding was Kyle and Samantha’s in May. Every time he went out with the guys while Samantha was on a work trip, he would come home with different women. Samantha had no idea that he had actually acted out but suspected such. Samantha stayed because she thought there is more good than bad in this relationship and that she would rather be with him than alone. Would Samantha eventually grow to feel confident and comfortable living alone and eventually not want to manage the hurt that goes along with infidelity?

Kyle’s friends were surprised when he told them he was ring shopping as they never expected Mr. Playboy to “settle down.”  Kyle had decided to take action as the pressure from his parents to marry Samantha “a good girl,” was too much for him to continue to handle.   Would Kyle finally meet a girl who was “good” but also who understood him, whom he felt a deep connection with and whom he respected?

The Labor Day weekend invitation was for Michael and Mary’s wedding. Mary had lost four jobs in a year. She would show up to work intoxicated.  How many times would Michael emotionally and physically be able to bail Mary out of her difficult situation? At what point would he realize that a relationship is a two way street and want to be in a reciprocated relationship?

Then there was the final invitation of the wedding season: Scott and Katie. Scott was previously married. Scott pay alimony and child support on a $300,000 income he no longer has due. He struggles to pay his bills and is not able to financially support his relationship with Katie. Kate and him always fight over Katie not feeling like she is his number one priority and the fact that she had to take on another job to support them has created resentment in the relationship. Another contentious issue in their relationship is that Katie wants kids as she does not have any of her own. Scott cannot wrap his head around having another child as he has difficulty paying for the ones that he has and refuses to budge on this decision. Will financial stress and not wanting the same family dynamics eventually come between them?

Infidelity, complacency, finances, difficulty handling a substance abuse problem, difference in what a couple wants in their family dynamics are all common reasons relationships struggle and why couples break up or get divorced. Are these issues that you would like to work out before you get married? Do you want to take on these issues for the rest of your life and accept that “they are what they are?” Do you want to find a relationship that meets your needs? Do you even know what these needs are? Are you letting fear of addressing these concerns dictate your actions? Eventually you will have to face your fears of questioning do I stay and try to overcome these challenges, do I go or do I settle and learn to live with the situation at hand and find peace with it?

Sally and Dave finished dessert in silence with the residue of each of their friend’s relationships lingering over them. How had they seemed to find a peaceful relationship with the other, one that met their needs and that they truly valued? They each used the turbulent relationships in the past to learn what they wanted and did not want in their currently relationships only allowing those people in their lives that met their standards: loving, respectful, equal, responsible, reciprocal, fun and funny. Don’t we all deserve this?

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