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Why Even Good Marriages (Sometimes) Fail

We’re getting a divorce.

I suspect that 98% of my readers have heard those words either from their parents, their siblings, their adult children or dear friends. Shocking are the words but typically, unless you were a child, never a complete surprise to those on whose ears they land. That is, unless there is the imperceptibly fatal syndrome of what I call, ‘you’re my everything’.

In The Good life, Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness, by Robert Waldinger, MD and Marc Schulz, PhD, the authors provide us the results of The Harvard Study of Adult Development that followed the lives of two generations of individuals from the same families for more than eighty years. Among the myriad of fascinating observations, one struck me as worthy of sharing this Valentine’s Day:

“Without realizing it, many of us expect our partners to provide money, love, sex, and to be our best friends. We expect them to provide counsel and conversation and to make us laugh. We want them to help us become our best selves. We not only ask our partners to do these things for us; we also expect to provide these things for them. A lucky few may find themselves in relationships where these high expects are met reasonably well. In most relationships, it’s too much to ask.

How do our close relationships get weighted down with so much expectation? Sometimes the reason has less to do with the relationship and more to do with waning connections in other parts of our lives. If we’re no longer having the kind of fun we can only have with a group of friends or family member who know us well, or we’ve stopped pursuing our personal interests, hobbies and passions, we might turn to our partner to fill those needs. The intimate relationship becomes like a sponge, soaking up whatever failed expectation happens to be lying around. Suddenly we’re finding fault with the person beside us when it’s the rest of our lives and our other relationships that need attention.”

So, if today you presented a Valentine’s Day card that reads, ‘You’re My Everything’ run, don’t walk, to the nearest Hobby Lobby or sign up for a class at the local Y because as Timothy Keller writes:

“No person, not even the best one, can give your soul all it needs.”

Happy Valentine's Day, my friend.

(No, Kids. We’re not getting a divorce but it made you open Mom’s blog, didn’t it?)

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