If all relationships are different, than how do I know if mine is working?
I spend a lot of time thinking about my marriage. And when I say "thinking," what I really mean is worrying. Should it be better? Is it harder than other people's marriages? Do we have more problems, more conflicts, less in common than other couples? I turn these questions over and over in my mind like worry stones. These questions have worn grooves in my brain.
The answer to all my questions is "yes," and "no." We have more conflict than some couples, less than a lot. Some couples must work hard to find things in common, others probably can't wait to get out on the trail (wagon, bike, campaign, whatever trail) together. All relationships are different.
To say all relationships are different is somewhat reassuring, but leaves much unanswered. If all relationships are different, than how do I know if mine is working? How do I know if this is a good relationship with some challenges or a really difficult relationship that could work if we are both committed to trying or a bad relationship that should be chucked into the scrap heap of love?
If you want to know how difficult these questions are, type “should I stay or should I go” into the books section of Amazon. The day I did it, I got 1,555 results. Apparently many people are looking for a litmus test for their relationship.
Which brings me to another point; clearly I am not alone in my struggle, but I feel alone and this fuels my anxiety. Sure everyone will tell you that relationships take work, but what does that mean? Where are the thoughtful discussions on what exactly it takes to keep a relationship going for 10 years or 20 or 50?
As usual, the media is of little help here. Sitcom couples squabble but always make up by the end of the show. Movies promote the idea that you fall in love in a few days and it should last forever. If it doesn’t last forever, it’s Hollywood: you move on. Many movie couples are blessed with the assistance of a wise stranger/ grandmother/precocious child who shows up just at the right time to give them wisdom and courage. I keep waiting for any of those things to show up in my kitchen after we’ve quarreled, but so far it’s just me and the dirty dishes. (Whoopi Goldberg where are you when I need you?)
Let’s face it, we probably don't want to watch movies that show a couple bickering over the stupid things that couples bicker over. The problem is when no one is talking about this and I don’t see it in the media, I feel alone and as if we are the only couple who struggles.
Have any thoughts on how to judge a good marriage? I’d love to hear them.