The personal blog of Frank Lesko. Award-winning writer. Non-profit entrepreneur. Activist. Religious professional. Foodie. Musician. All around curious soul and Renaissance man.

See also my professional blog: The Traveling Ecumenist.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Why You Will Marry the Right Person

I like this article:  Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person

It has some great lines, especially in describing how a partner will get us into those family-of-origin issues while many friendships will just skim over the deep stuff. I can see how the pessimism it describes can be freeing.

It's tough to admit, but in some way, shape or form, we all start off looking for a partner as an object to meet our needs--a puzzle piece that will "complete us," where everything just magically (and passively) falls into place. If a relationship doesn't work, the blame is on not having found the "right one."

Both men and women do it. Men want the 'princess in a tower' and women want the 'prince charming to rescue her.' The fairy tale may vary in some of the details, but the overall emotional structure is the same. He is treating her as an object, and she is doing the same to him. That's actually why they are a match, because they are both at the same stage of development.

There are definitely some growing pains when the fairy tale falls short and lived experience points to a different calling. The pessimism the article talks about seems to be the author's way of attempting to cope.

Where the article falls short is not seeing the karma in this. Partners will come into our lives to meet us exactly where our emotional work ends and our unfinished work begins. We actually are objects for each other's growth, but in a far different way than we thought as young romantics. Those old illusions have to shatter in order for the new growth to emerge out of those shattered expectations. Cynicism is only one of the first reactions in the aftermath of the fairy tale, but it does not have to be the last word. A renewed optimism emerges.

The "flaws", "rough edges" and tensions start looking like opportunities for growth--rather than signs of incompatibility or obstacles to be overpowered.

It's tough to watch young partners who are constantly bickering who don't yet realize the source of their bickering nor the fruitlessness of it. The relationship is urging them to grow but they are digging in their heels and refusing. They can go many, many rounds for many, many years. They won't win by winning the arguments in some simplistic sense, at least, not ultimately, not existentially. Their stalemate is actually quite a gift--it forces them to seek another, better way.

The relationship then takes on a new hue and becomes a deeper journey. I love the line in the above article that compatibility is an achievement, not a prerequisite. That goes against the massive tide of popular culture in America, where Hollywood aims and endings are mostly a voice for the fairy tale expectation. And fairy tales have their value and their place, but like Don Henley sings, we've been poisoned by these fairy tales.

I agree with the author overall, I just wouldn't call it pessimism. It's only pessimism if you are still grieving those fairy tale allusions. I think it's an exciting journey. 

I don't want to change you, I don't want to need you, and I certainly don't want to spend my time like some blacksmith hammering you into the perfect puzzle piece to fit all my rough edges. That wouldn't correspond to either my dignity or yours. An occasional truce may be in order to get through a rough patch, but not as a lifestyle. I'd rather just be with you, enjoy your smile, appreciate the differences and be companions for the journey.

Take it away, John Denver!