What if I told you it might help if you were a little less married. That perhaps you need some space to explore your own needs.
To be clear, I’m not talking about an open marriage or “consensual non-monogamy” — what sex columnist Dan Savage calls being monogamish — as the ultimate way to keep it together.
That may be the answer for you and yours, and you’ll get zero judgment from me. But most of us need to do more homework on trust, communication, and intimacy before taking that test.
I’m talking about becoming your best self, on your own. And in the process, ultimately strengthening your relationship so that it rocks for ages.
Just the two of us
Divorce rates have dropped by 18% since 2008. Our generation is largely credited for this decline, given that we started the trend of holding off on marriage until later, when we were more established in our careers and financially stable.
Conversely, so-called “gray divorces” for older folks are up 50% since 1990. Before you chalk this up to Boomers marrying too young, research instead points to the traditional bill of goods they were sold — that their development as individuals and an enduring union are mutually exclusive.
The idea that another individual should fulfill all of our needs forevermore is a fallacy. How could anyone be expected to live up to that obligation?
Not that all romantic notions are dead ends, though. In fact, it’s worthwhile to troll the go-to poets favored by wedding planners to crack the code of long-term monogamy.
You can go your own way … together
In “On Marriage,” Kahlil Gibran talks about love not as a bond, but as “a moving sea between the shores of your souls.” And Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet advocates space and privacy as key to a good marriage:
A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.
The moral of the story?
Fall in love with new things that give you personal meaning and purpose. As it turns out, you do you is actually your best shot at preserving your “I do” for the long haul.