December 4, 2022

How long/well do you know him/her?

I had someone say to me “it was love at first sight” while in tears about where they allow that to take them.  It is important to understand many times in the beginning of a relationship we are filled with wonderful emotions.  It is often a great ride.  We may experience that “I can swim the deepest sea…climb the highest mountain” euphoria that comes with falling in love.  Some chose to marry while on that high only to wake one day wondering where he high went.  More importantly, wondering who it is they actually married.

It is important to take time to see your new love in various situations, to come to know them as they truly are.  Most people place their best foot forward in the beginning of a relationship and this is understandable.  It takes time to come to know each other.  This is true of long distant relationships as well.

Julie (my wife) and I had a long distant relationship.  We have discussed this since we married 16 years ago.  We agree we are happy we did it, yet would not recommend it.  We saw each other for a weekend about every other month or so.   Therefore we found ourselves wanting not to create or address things which needed addressing for fear of having a not so nice weekend.  I have to give Julie credit here as she was more aware of this at this time in our relationship than I.  What did we do?  Julie made a brave decision to sublet a dorm room from a mutual friend on the campus where I was studying at the time.  She was there for several weeks.  We learned a lot about each other in that time.  It would be another several months before we would become engaged.

Is this potential life mate your best friend?  In The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John Gottman he writes:

 …the simple truth that happy marriages are based on a deep friendship.  By this I mean a mutual respect for and enjoyment of each other’s company.  These couples tend to know each other intimately – they are well versed in each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes and dreams.  They have an abiding regard for each other and express this fondness not just in big ways but in little ways day in and day out.

 It takes more than a few weeks or months to come to truly know, understand, and have a meaningful friendship.  A relationship that goes deeper than the emotional high one often feels in the beginning of a relationship.  Marrying someone after coming to know them creates a much more secure relationship than one based mostly on emotion.

When one experiences this closeness there is a better chance for intimacy (not talking about sex guys).  This creates that bonding moment needed for the experience of oneness, for that feeling where one says “I never want this moment to end.  In The Art of Intimacy, Malone and Malone write that I order to have intimacy one must first be able to be vulnerable with that person.  In order to be vulnerable one must be able to trust that person.  When the trust is not there the footing is not present to begin the creation of the intimate moment.

Please do not misunderstand, chemistry is important, yet certainly not the basis for a life long commitment.  If you are meant to be life long partners, what is the rush?  At the same time if one has yet to commit after several years…well that is a topic for another time.

Next time 3 questions I ask all couples coming to me for pre-marital counseling