Statistically speaking, you’re totally right.
Enter a long-term relationship/marriage with someone, then 5–10 years later, boom, fuckness.
You know it. I know it.
And that’s because lost in all this shit we talk about RE: love/sex/dating/marriage, and all of the things we are taught in school and from our parents, and all of the magic-pill advice givers out there, is that almost no one ever says what’s true and real.
What’s true and real is that great relationships are not made by taking this one type of man or woman and pairing them up with this other type of man or woman in some magically complementary Happily Ever After love-optimization matrix that guarantees it will work.
The reason everything turns to shit after 10 years (no matter how great the people are, and how happy they seem at the beginning), is that neither person has the first clue that they’re not living in the love-optimization matrix.
“After all, it hasn’t been all that hard through the first two or three years of dating, so why would marriage be any different?” everyone thinks. The assumption at that point, especially for guys, is that it will always be just like it is right now. Just like Forever Boyfriend and Girlfriend.
He doesn’t have a freaking clue about her complex emotional makeup. How important it is for her to feel safe, wanted and loved, and that the things he think provide that for her, DO NOT provide that for her. How she is always mentally and emotionally multitasking and connecting dots from the beginning of time through today.
She doesn’t have a freaking clue about his totally compartmentalized makeup. How he is constantly dealing with only one specific thing at any given time, and is totally befuddled by her crying because dinner stayed in the oven too long, and now it’s ruined, but it’s no big deal because you can just grab sushi takeout or order a pizza, but for her, it was the straw that broke the emotional camel’s back after a day full of little things gone wrong punctuated by the feeling that her boyfriend or husband doesn’t give a shit.
He gives a shit.
He just doesn’t get it, so he doesn’t know that he’s supposed to give a shit while behaving differently.
A man assumes his wife or girlfriend experiences the world just as he does, and can never figure out why simply being himself can cause so much division.
A woman assumes her husband or boyfriend experiences the world just as she does, and can never figure out Why the hell doesn’t this guy get it!?!?
No one teaches us about any of this shit in school. And our parents don’t either, probably because they don’t know, or maybe because by doing so, their kids would find out just how secretly dysfunctional and broken their marriage really is.
The reason everything turns to shit after 10 years (or more accurately, imperceptibly slowly each and every day over those 10 years) is because people think simply BEING and not cheating on one another or punching each other in the face is enough. It’s not their fault either. Everyone’s in the dark.
100-percent of marriages comprised of people adamant that their partners accept them as they are without compromise for the rest of their lives ends in misery. Always.
They confuse love “the feeling,” with love “the choice.”
When we used to get pissed at our parents because they didn’t let us go to the party, or borrow the car, we didn’t feel like we loved them, but we loved them. As parents ourselves, our kids, after we give up our entire lives to provide for them and make their lives the best they can be, act like little ingrate shitheads and we feel like punching them in their little knowitall faces and giving all their toys to impoverished kids who won’t mouth off to us.
We don’t feel like we love them. We just choose to. And inevitably, the feelings come back.
This is the way we are supposed to behave in our relationships:
Step 1. Wake up.
Step 2. Decide to faithfully love the person you vowed to love forever.
Step 3. Behave accordingly that day, with kindness and friendliness and supportiveness, and intentionally doing things you know to lift up your partner, and intentionally avoiding things you know to tear her/him down. Behave in ways consistent with deliberately loving someone even when it’s inconvenient or we don’t feel like it.
Step 4. Repeat daily. Forever.
No one likes to do it because it’s “hard.” It’s inconvenient. Because maybe my soulmate is out there right now, and I’ll never ever have fights with or be disappointed by them!!!
When two people both understand what’s at stake. And both understand that nothing lasts forever without will, fortitude, and appropriate care. And both make it a daily habit to give a little bit more to their partner and relationship than they take for themselves (with the secret understanding that they’re getting that same unselfish treatment back in return)…
We get to 12 years. And 15. 25. Then, 35.
Then, 50 and we’re surrounded by children, grandchildren and admirers and it’s fucking beautiful. And we’re not all miserably shitty, lonely and pounding psych meds.
We’re the people who changed the game. The generation that FINALLY woke up, reprioritized, and showed the following generations the blueprint for avoiding brokenness and dysfunction.
Then, we’re the people who changed the world.
And all we had to do was choose it.