Today I was intrigued by a discussion of relationship myths, and this got me to thinking about the ones I find most bothersome. These are the ones I want my children to recognize and avoid like the plague…
1. He’ll settle down (change his mind) after we’re married.
2. She’ll grow to love my family (or they will come to love her).
3. He won’t spend as much (go out as often) after the baby comes.
4. Another baby will make us close again
5. She’s independent, she won’t mind my working so much
6. Differences in faiths or upbringing don’t matter to us
As I review the list I realize most all these myths have one common thread, the idea that something outside a person can cause them to change, and change big.
So many of us want to believe this is true… that those annoying, unsettling quirks we see now will disappear after the ceremony or when the baby comes. Only they don’t. Instead, it is our tolerance for them that does all the changing. Life and time bring that toleance right down to zero — a whole lot faster than you might think.
I’ve seen this happen first hand many times. The hard partier still goes out (only now without you), drinking and charging way too much. The mama’s boy can never stand up to her, even when it means everything to you. The flirt who is enchanting and engaging now will continue to say and do outrageous things to get the attention and admiration of everyone she meets — including your boss, your friends, your co-workers.
Until the day you wake up, ten years (or more) older, busy and burdened to find you’re living with the very same person you married. You’ve grown, they haven’t.
From what I’ve seen, believing somone will be changed by one event or relationship sets you up for some major disappointment and unhappiness. It’s not that people can’t change — they can. But they have to WANT to.
It’s not enough for you to want them to. And in fact, in some cases this brings an even more stubborn refusal to give in.
What I would tell my children is this. If it bothers you now, stop and think — can you tolerate this quirk every single day, year in and year out for the rest of your life? Because it’s not going to change… except to get more bothersome.
I’d also encourage them to be good listeners. Listen to what is being said — about work or children or lifestyle — and believe what you’re being told. Even when someone wants to change, or life forces change upon them — it’s made more difficult because it isn’t something they really (in their heart) want to do. You will always feel this and know it to be true.
It’s also important to consider the opinion of friends when it come to your relationship choices. You don’t need to be ruled by these opinions, but you can listen to them. if friends don’t like your new love — find out why. They may see something that you, blinded by emotion as you are, have missed. You might not want to hear what they have to say, but grit your teeth and listen anyway. You might come away with valuable insight that ends up saving you a whole lot of heartache.
Lastly, if your mother (father or close family member who has your best interest at heart and has shown this through your life) is trying, perhaps clumsily, to warn you of something — hold off on the defensiveness and let them have their say. I know a daughter who was warned quite candidly by her mom about her bridegroom. At the time the daughter didn’t listen, sure that “marriage will change him” and wound up 19 years later divorced, raising two kids alone, and regretting that she’d dismissed her mother’s wise advice.
But then — mom’s always know best (don’t they???)