by Klayne I. Rasmussen,
Ph.D., Marriage Counselor
Partners may follow individual pursuits, or engage in behaviors that are only about themselves. But to the degree that this becomes detrimental to the relationship, they are being selfish. It's a matter of balance and consideration.
2. Lack of commitment: loyalty, fidelity and devotion.
Loyalty means being true to the relationship that you establish. Don't talk about your relationship with others in ways that will breach the trust of the other person. Fidelity means being honest and consistent. Honesty leads to trust, and being consistent leads to a sense that you can be counted on. Devotion means the amount of energy you are going to spend on the relationship.
3. Lack of unity of purpose: understanding what you and your spouse want from a marriage.
Too many couples have no clear idea what kind of marriage they are trying to build. It is important to know what type of relationship you want so that you can be clear both in words and actions about the relationship you are presently in. This can create clear boundaries and expectations and help you and your spouse communicate more clearly about your hopes and desires so that they will be one and the same.
4. Striving for reciprocity rather than mutuality.
There is a difference between giving a compliment because you want to receive one in return and giving a compliment because you sincerely mean it. We want reassurance to lessen our insecurities and we become offended and hurt when the other person doesn't reciprocate our attentions. However, if the two of you are mutually striving for a good relationship, to a large degree, those insecurities will be dispelled - whether your affection is reciprocated the way you expected or not.
5. Not understanding the nature and dynamics of true intimacy.
Intimacy refers to the level of emotional openness and availability, sharing, and comfort you are willing to engage in. Too often we expect complete intimacy, complete openness, total disclosure. This may seem achievable when a relationship first begins, but as it matures, the level of connection and disclosure becomes less, leading to dissatisfaction and eventually, break up. That's the way it should be when you are dating. But in marriage you need to understand how this works and be able to be flexible.
6. Not understanding the nature of real love.
Real love is not just a feeling. It is about what we do for each other. Couples lose sight of the fact that the head over heals feeling that they felt when they first got together is not the kind of love that is going to take them from "I do" to "happily ever after." A whole different kind of love evolves that is based on doing things for and with each other, not on what I can get from the relationship.
7. Aversion to discomfort.
Discomforts can relate to issues of intimacy, hardship, struggle, physical and emotional pain, facing your own and your spouse's weaknesses, and sacrifice. We humans do not like discomfort. We'll do almost anything to avoid or get out of pain. Relationships often bring pain and discomfort with them as a matter of course.
8. Not working to be friends, continuing the courtship.
Couples tend to forget that they have to work on the relationship by dating and doing, or finding similar interests.
(edited by David VanAlstyne)
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