Contrary To Public Opinion: You Are From The Same Planet
Diane and I celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary last month. I am extremely grateful to have shared my life with her all these years. The history we have collected together over these years are filled with both great joy and disappointments. But it is our story and we have grown closer with every twist and turn. The result is a deep love and respect for each other. Yes, she is my life partner.
At the same time, I never want to hold up our marriage as a perfect example of wedded bliss! I see too much arrogance on the part of some couples who are still married after many years. I never want to add to this attitude. The way I see it, if you have been happily married to someone for many years, just be grateful. Life and marriage are complex and challenging and there are no guarantees for any of us.
As a matter of fact, the two couples we enjoy spending the most time with these days have both been married before. So even though we have the good fortune of only being married once we have a great deal in common with these wonderful friends on their second marriages. What we have in common is love and respect for our partners.
After 30 years of doing marriage counseling I firmly believe that the only type of relationship that can be healthy and satisfying for men and women in our world today is a partnership. One of the core beliefs of all partnerships is that men and women are more similar than different.
You heard me right. We have more in common than our differences. This is where we must begin if we are to grow a partnership. Too much time is spent by "experts" telling women that if they just understood how men are wired they will have a great marriage. In the same way, too many books and men's retreats tell men that they only way they can have a happy marriage is to study her differences. I believe this pervasive message to men and women is dangerous and only adds to the distance we may already feel with our spouse. John Gray you haven't done us any favors!
Now don't get me wrong. Men and women do have some gender differences. My point is to not focus here. Once we start getting specific about this we shoot ourselves in the foot with false assumptions. "Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus" has given thousands of couples around the world permission to focus on where we are different. It has provided false security and made us feel miles apart from our spouse. Even to the point where some believe they are married to an alien!
We need to leave our differences to mystery and focus on what we have in common to build intimacy. Then we will begin to see our partners as originating from the same planet again. Maybe then we can drop the macho facade and female manipulation games and start to feel like friends again. What we knew in our guts from the first time was accurate. We are friends with some sexual chemistry mixed in. Start growing your marriage again by focusing on what we have in common and leaving the differences up to mystery.