by Kenneth Justice
~Yesterday I talked with a client for quite a bit about how much we change throughout the course of our life. My client has been married for 20 years and his life has changed a lot. My client was an every day drug addict for nearly 10 years and his life was going nowhere when he met his future wife at a bar one night in the 1980’s, she told him during that first meeting; “Your going to marry me and you’re never going to do drugs again”
And so he married her and he’s never touched drugs or alcohol ever since. Not once since that first meeting at the bar, with what would be his future wife, has he ever touched drugs or alcohol…..its been 20 years.
Sounds like a match ‘made in heaven’ right? Well…..not necessarily.
“Kenneth its been 20 years. I’m simply not the person I was then….and neither is she. I simply don’t believe anyone is truly head-over-heels in love with their spouse after 20 years of marriage….its just not possible” he said to me yesterday.
Does he sound a bit ungrateful?
There he was, a drunk and drug addict spiraling toward a life of meaninglessness when he met a woman at the bar whom he not only fell-in-love with, but she also was the impetus for him finding a greater purpose in life away from chemical substances.
Yet that is often the case in life. There are things that bind us together in a relationship and when those things disappear…….we often find the friendship or love disappearing.
—) Some people have great marriages until the children grow up…..once they are gone the relationship dies
—) Some people are great friends with co-workers…..but when they leave the job for a new vocation….they find that those co-worker ‘friends’ are no longer in their life
—) Some people bond over fighting addictions or fighting crazy relatives….but when the conflict is over…..they find that they simply don’t have that much in common
One of the most common and dramatic examples of changing seasons in life is when we attended school as children and young adults. Statistics tell us that the overwhelming majority of people do not have close friendships with their school mates post graduation; Once you no longer go to school with the kids you are less likely to stay friends with them……you move on with your life and so do they.
Monday thru Friday you see those fellow school mates from morning to afternoon…..for more than a decade you go to birthday parties, play on athletic teams with them, go on dates, get your first kiss (lose your virginity?)…..but once you move on to college or career or fill-in-the-blank…you are unlikely to remain friends with the majority of those classmates.
Do you notice how the external components of life can help to bind us together…..but when the external circumstances change……the dynamics of our friendships and relationships often change as well.
Marriage counselors suggest finding new ‘things to bond over’. “Go on date nights“, “find things to do that you both enjoy” they will tell you. Yet many people try doing those things and it only confirms to them all the more that they are no longer interested in being in an intimate relationship with their significant other.
We all change. Life changes us. Marriage changes us. Relationships change us…….who we once were becomes a shadow of who we are now.
We used to be happy sitting at a desk entering data into a computer….but now we want something different to do….we want new challenges….different friendships and relationships.
But aren’t there success stories? What about the people who have been married for fifty years and are still just as much in love with each other? My client said that he doesn’t believe most of those people ‘are in love’. “Kenneth, most of those are just marriages of conveniences….if the people could move on with their life without being condemned by society or religion they probably would” is what he told me.
Is my client right? Or is he just expressing a personally pessimistic attitude because of his own circumstances?
A friend of mine told me the following;
“The key to a successful long-term relationship is allowing each other to have close friends outside of the marriage. You both need to develop somewhat separate lives so that you don’t suffocate each other. Its not a bad idea to travel separately once in awhile. Have different experiences so you can come back to the relationship with something fresh to discuss….otherwise too much time together and you start to get on each other’s nerves”
What do you think? Are long-term friendships, marriages and other such relationships possible? What is the key to making them work?
lots of thoughts this morning and they all lead me to realizing that its time for my morning coffee,