I am married to a different person every year.
That makes me sound like I can’t hold down a relationship, although the opposite is actually the truth.
Did I sign up 20-plus years ago for the person I live with today?
I signed up for the person they used to be. Let me put it another way: they have changed over the past 20-plus years. The reality, however, is that I have also changed considerably over that time, so not only are we different individually but we are also different as a couple.
I see couples coming into my clinic complaining that the person they are with has changed. They are not the person they originally fell in love with all those years ago.
People become so invested with previously held, fixed images of who they want to be or be with that they close their minds to the person developing in front of them.
In fact they have become angry at their partner for changing and believe that they themselves are exactly the same as when the pair met.
Bob and Margery no longer had a good word to say about each other when I met them. They both constantly complained about the other person’s faults.
Margery was bitterly disappointed about Bob not having the time to spend with her because he was saving the family business from the disaster her brother had plunged it into after her father’s death.
Bob no longer saw Margery as a sexual prospect because all he perceived was that she was not happy with his sexual advances after menopause.
They had to learn to date gain and start their relationship anew with the person they were married to now.
Society has become obsessed with overly romantic notions based on unrealistic expectations of what the ordinary person, partner or relationship should be.
People have been bombarded by media and internet images of the ever perfect person based on model-like images.
We are human beings with all our beauties, foibles and idiosyncrasies.
We can never and should never be a perfect cardboard cut-out of other people’s fantasies or delusions because to be human is be ever evolving.
Healthy relationships allow the individual within that relationship to grow and evolve. They celebrate the changes and transitions that people go through and accommodate those changes to create new kinds of happiness.
How you love someone now may not be the same way you loved them years ago.
Love is what you create, not what you see on a soap opera.
You create love and happiness in your relationship by the efforts you make to let your partner know they are worthy and loved. Love between couples is not free – you have to work at it day by day.
Bob and Margery had to start their relationship again and determine what they both wanted out of life today.
Only by spending time celebrating each other and facilitating the growth of the person you are with can you keep the flame of love alive in your relationship. In the end Bob and Margery sold the business and spent more time being a family again and exploring new adventures in their lives.
So am I in love and married to the same person 20-plus years later? Well, they have the same name but they are now much changed. Do I love both equally? No. I love the person I am with more and more each day and look forward to new ways of loving each other in the future.
If you and your partner need some help learning to love each other again, differently, call my office on 02 8021 6429 to book a couples counselling appointment.
Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH, BHSc, ND, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist. Counsellor, PACFA registered Mental Health Professional and Naturopath In Sydney. You can get help by booking an appointment with her at Australian Health & Education Centre.