I knew this couple who had this long term sizzling affair going on although both were married to other people. Their so-called clandestine romance (most of their friends and acquaintances knew about it), had all the makings of a soap opera. They had decided not to leave their marriages for the sake of their children. Through the many years of their affair, they made it clear they longed for each other. The day finally arrived when the children grew up, and then both left their respective spouses shortly after that. Whenever I ran into the scorned wife, her eyes immediately filled with tears. I’m not sure she ever got over their breakup, but, in a way, she had her revenge.
Six months into the new marriage, I bumped into the lovers at a cocktail party. We chatted, and when the bride turned her attention elsewhere, the man leaned over and whispered, “I’d rate my second marriage a C minus.”
Well, you could have sponged me off the floor. I thought about that one for a long time, that is, until I happened on another restyled couple that I knew well. Unsolicited, the man leaned over and whispered something quite similar – “…first wife, second wife, hardly any difference.”
Now, I ask, “Is there something intrinsic in marriage that sets it up to fail over and over?” For instance, does the leap from lovers to married couple kill romance? How about those with a string of failed marriages? Are they choosing the same mate in a different disguise (usually younger for the men) over and over? We all know that marriages are failing at an alarming rate. It’s close to epidemic propotions. To add to the misery, many of the marriages that remain intact are unhappy.
I could go on with speculation (and you know I will), but at the end of the day, we all have to search for answers within ourselves. I strongly believe, it is the unexamined life that contributes most to destroying relationships. When intellect and emotions bump heads, emotions usually prevail.
The emotional component within ourselves is derived from early childhood – impressions of parents or guardians, outside mentors, movies, books, advertising – the list is unlimited. Everything we see or hear sends indelible messages to the brain. We come to adulthood with all this baggage that has been hard-wired into our brains.
For the most part, we are unaware of the impact of this vast array of input into our memory banks. It takes place in our unconscious or even semi-conscious minds. I liken it to the computer that even when you lose a document it is imprinted somewhere in the mysterious caverns of hard drives. It never goes away. We might recall flickers of information, we might not. All of this helps to form what we call “romantic chemistry.”
The unconscious can be a formidable foe in your personal life or even in your career. If we are very lucky and had a terrific childhood, our romantic chemistry can lead us up a wonderful path. If our upbringing was not so perfect (like the vast majority of us), then our romantic chemistry can lead us astray. Even with a happy childhood, there are a myriad of messages we’ve integrated into our unconscious that can be detrimental. Influences, such as society mores, peer pressure and advertising. Then there are the violent video games and dolls for little girls with unattainable physical proportions and exaggerated lifestyles.
Harville Hendrix, Ph.D, a pastoral counselor with more than thirty years’ experience as and educator and therapist, wrote, Getting The Love You Want. In his book, he refers to the old brain and the new brain. “In sharp contrast to the new brain, you are unaware of most of the functions of your old brain. Trying to comprehend this part of your being is a maddening task, because you have to turn your conscious mind around to examine its own underbelly.”
I believe we must make the effort to know ourselves, to examine our own behavior and attitudes. We must explore this mass of communications that has formed us. Would you give your money to a stranger who claimed to be a top notch investment advisor? Before you’d do that, you would investigate, question their track record and ask people who have used the service whether they’ve been successful. Allowing your unconscious, technically a stranger to you, to rule how you behave is irresponsible.
You have to investigate your own romantic track record – has it been successful? If you are involved with someone, have you ever asked them what is their opinion of your capacity to love? Ask yourself if you’ve ever found happiness in relationships. If you have been in multiple marriages/relationships, why are they failing? Are you choosing the same person in different disguises? Perhaps it’s because you’re living an emotionally unexamined life.
Why would you allow your unconscious to rule you? It’s an unknown commodity until you thoroughly explore it – both pros and cons. If you find you are stuck in a destructive groove, you can change it, but not until you discover the why!
I refuse to believe that familiarity, necessarily, breeds contempt. Familiarity is fertile ground to know your lover/mate/partner/spouse deeply, exposing one layer at a time until reaching the last and loneliest place within each and every one of us. Then, familiarity breeds adoration and love. When a soul mate touches that hidden place within us, it is a liberating and exhilarating experience. But, I strongly feel that it can only come by digging into the bedrock of our psyches, by understanding first, who we are. No one can make you happy. It has to come from within yourself!
Let me quote Hendrix again. “When you accept the limited nature of your perceptions and become more receptive to the truth of your partner’s perceptions, a whole world opens up to you.”
The sexy grandmom