This article discusses all the reasons we may end up marrying the wrong person.
Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully avoided investigating.
If that sounds bleak, consider for a moment the trope of the whirlwind romance. Our instinct that we should be with another person often overrides all reason regarding the logistics of the situation. Maybe both partners are very young, the relationship is new, or there are preexisting financial problems. Perhaps because of human history’s past of arranged and advantageous marriages resulting in unhappiness, modern couples often avoid even acknowledging reasons the partnership might not work long term. We have embraced the romanticism of marrying for love and the spark that drives us to be with our partner is reason enough. But when the fantasy wears off we’re blindsided by serious growing pains.
There are a number of other reasons we marry too soon or marry the wrong person. We are driven to avoid loneliness, we seek the familiarity of strong family ties from our childhood, and we want a way to capture the joyful moments of our relationship and make them permanent. Unfortunately, life is full of changes, no two people can be happy all the time, and at times we will all be lonely.
The problem in the end isn’t marrying the wrong person. The problem is having unrealistic expectations. Romanticism tells us that if we find the right person, they will meet all of our needs and everything will be perfect. Thus, if we’re struggling and experiencing all the normal problems of two humans trying to share a life together we may feel we must be with the wrong person. In fact the beauty in a good marriage is continuing to work to be compatible, to be compassionate, and to continue to make the choice to move forward together.
The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition
Even though our ideas about sex and sexuality have greatly advanced over the last half-century, our culture still holds a double standard about infidelity. While no one is entirely surprised by the behavior of a Bill Clinton, an Elliot Spitzer, or a Tiger Woods—men will be men, after all—we still tend to pathologize women or shame them (or both) for having affairs.
In my view, far from being evidence of pathology or marital bankruptcy, a woman’s affair can be a way of expressing a desire for an entirely different self, either separate from the marriage altogether or still in it. An affair can be what I call “a can opener” for women unable to articulate for themselves why they’re unhappy in their marriages, much less empower themselves to leave or begin an honest conversation with their husbands about what they feel is wrong. In my practice, I’ve heard many women say, “I didn’t even know what I wanted until the affair was over and I realized that I really wanted to end my marriage,” or “I had no idea that I used the affair as a way to wake up our relationship.”
Many infidelity treatment approaches today are based on the idea that the unfaithful spouse is a perpetrator, someone who wronged the other person. While the pain caused by infidelity can’t and shouldn’t be denied, it generally isn’t understood well enough that many women cheat because they struggle with their self-identity in their lives and lack of empowerment in their marriages. Sometimes, understanding an affair as an unconscious bid for self-empowerment, relief from bad sex, or a response to a lack of choices or personal freedom is an important first step toward a fuller, more mature selfhood.
View the full article and learn about the phases of affair recovery here.
I had a great time at the annual AASECT conference in Puerto Rico. I wanted to share some of the photos I took at this wonderful event.
Wendy Haggerty and Tammy Nelson
Tammy Nelson taping Relationship TV at the AASECT 2016 conference in Puerto Rico
Wendy Haggerty, Sally Valentine, Isa Jones, and Tammy Nelson, outside of the Renaissance Hotel
From AASECT 2016 Tantra SIG panel, Sally Valentine, Mark Johnson, Roz Dischiavo, Francesca Gentille
After releasing a moving letter on Lenny, Alicia Keys has begun a #NoMakeup Movement. There are stunning images of her appearances at recent concerts and events without makeup, and the response has been amazing. Obviously this position is resonating with fans: Instagram, Twitter and other social media has been flooded with pictures of women putting down the makeup and picking up the camera. Many including Keys herself have commented on how empowering the experience has been.
I felt powerful because my initial intentions realized themselves. My desire to listen to myself, to tear down the walls I built over all those years, to be full of purpose, and to be myself! The universe was listening to those things I’d promised myself, or maybe I was just finally listening to the universe, but however it goes, that’s how this whole #nomakeup thing began. Once the photo I took with Paola came out as the artwork for my new song “In Common,” it was that truth that resonated with others who posted #nomakeup selfies in response to this real and raw me.
I hope to God it’s a revolution.
‘Cause I don’t want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.
It’s definitely more socially acceptable for women to have same sex encounters than men. But recent studies suggest there may also be evolutionary reasons for this difference.
The findings revealed when it came to sexuality, women were more fluid in each of the proposed ways. It confirmed women who experience increased levels of sexual fluidity have a larger number of children, and women who experience marriage or parenthood early in adult life also experience increased levels of sexual fluidity. This suggests women’s sexual fluidity may have been evolutionarily selected as a coping mechanism for polygynous marriages, even though humans have only been mildly polygynous throughout evolutionary history. Typically, these marriages are often characterized by conflict and tension among co-wives.
This not only opens up room for exploring how human sexuality evolves, but suggests that the evolution may have been different for men and women due to social and relationship structures throughout history.