Orignally posted November 11, 2010.
Wanna know the biggest marriage killer?
fusion: (noun) The process or result of joining two or more things together to form a single entity.
In a fused system there is no “I”, only “we”.
There is an expectation that everyone should think alike, behave the same, have the same opinions, and want the same things. It’s assumed that each member of the system will be there to meet the needs of the other member. And, in this type of system, the neediest and/or most anxious members of the system will dictate how much pressure there is to conform and sacrifice self in a “Borg-like” manner.
In a fused relationship system, your options for getting your needs met are limited to the people within the system, or to the ways people in the system approve of (read that again).
The more both you and your spouse create a fused system, the more dependent you become on each other and the less time you have to do things outside of the relationship that you find fulfilling.
To break free of fusion you must grow up.
And growing up involves creating and following your own passions, as well as your relationship passions.
When you first met your spouse, ideally you were both living interesting and fulfilling lives. These lives were an important part of what made you attractive to each other. But often, as your relationship progresses with each other, you let go of what used to be important and fulfilling to you for the sake of the relationship.
When this happens it creates two problems.
- You are each no longer the person the other was originally attracted to.
- As each of you give up important things in your life, you often expect the other person to fill the void. This is a heavy burden to place on any one person. It creates neediness and dependency, as well as resentment and boredom.
One of the biggest killers of passion in marriage is all the meaningless time spouses spend together. And it is actually this type of tensionless coexistence that defines most marriages today.
You need to live an interesting, fulfilling life beyond your intimate relationship.
Marriage should be two mature people who take responsibility for getting their own needs met both with each other and from numerous other sources.
While I firmly believe you should keep all of you sexual energy within the marriage, I also believe you should keep doing all of the interesting things you were doing before you met your spouse (or enjoy doing without your spouse).
Great marriages are the result of two mature, grown up people – both of whom have full, satisfying lives – cooperating with each other to get their needs met. In this kind of differentiated relationship, each spouse compliments the other, but doesn’t complete them.
Mature, growing people co-create a number of cooperative systems to help them do this. An intimate relationship is just one of these cooperative systems.
It is this kind of commitment to living a full life that helps maintain the growth in a relationship that is so important for attraction and attachment.
It’s also the premise of Simple Marriage that you shouldn’t have to give up anything important to you to be in a relationship – your hobbies, recreation, friends, family, alone time, passions, etc.
A mature, cooperative relationship should lighten your load, not add to your burden.
In order to create this kind of differentiated relationship, both people have to live their own life as the relationship evolves.
I’m often greeted with push-back to this idea of living your own life in marriage. Like I’m encouraging each spouse to live separate lives together.
You know what … I am!
It’s the only way a marriage fully alive marriage occurs.