Only in the last century has it been necessary for couples to be everything to each other. In the past couples lived in extended family settings. A young woman didn’t lose her mother when she married because she lived in the same household or in the same neighborhood. Her mother, aunties and sisters all lived in the same area, helping with the first baby or giving advice and support when marital problems arouse. This type of support stabilized young marriages increasing the likelihood of success.
A young man was supported when assuming the difficult and pressurized role of husband and father. His father, uncles, brothers and cousins were available to advise on marital life and help financially when young couples faced difficult times. Young couples were able to observe successful couples and learn from that observation. Friendships often began in infancy were a constant source of support and fun for the lifetime of the individuals involved.
We now have a transient population in modern society. Very often couples are on their own during the times when they need the most support. It is during these times that it is advantageous to draw on different aspects of self in relationship to a partner.
Couples are often unprepared for the amount of stress caused by living with the same person for years at a time. The same husband, wife or partner whose idiosyncrasies and peccadillos we found so charming and novel, are just plain irritating and dare we say it, annoying after a few months or years residing in the same space. Couples are often isolated from friends and family and find themselves angry and feeling resentful toward each other due to the work load inherent in starting and maintaining a family. It is helpful for couples to develop several enjoyable and helpful roles within their relationship.
Couples are often a tribe of two operating in isolation. When young couples come into my Denver office for sex and couples therapy, I am always interested to see, not only how their sexual relationship is going, but how strong their friendship is, as well. It is important to feel, at the very least, friendly toward someone you want to have sex with.
If you have begun, due to parenting and financial stressors, to lose sight of who your partner is outside of their role, it is time to work on and nurture the friendship necessary for any successful long term relationship.
The goal of having children is to successfully launch them into society when they become young adults. Many couples allow their friendship to disintegrate, during their parenting years, neglecting their relationship, allowing it to erode to the point that it is no longer viable when their children leave home. It is very important to nourish and sustain your friendship throughout the life of your marriage. You can do this by spending time without your children and doing activities you both enjoy. You can remember to tell your partner what they have gotten right vs everything they are doing wrong. It is also very important to spend time away from your kids and partner. In short establish and maintain a lifelong friendship with your significant other.
If you and your partner are disconnected and hurt by each other’s behavior and cant’ seem to resolve issues, call and make an appointment to see me at Denver Sex Therapy. Let’s explore and create friendship and shared meaning in your relationship.