Over the past ten years, I’ve worked with thousands of couples and a statement that I’ve heard over and over in my couples therapy office is when one partner turns to the other and says, “You are not the person I married.”
What should you do if you feel this way about your partner? And what should you do if you are on the receiving end of that statement, listening to your partner tell you that you are not the person they married? If you find yourself either saying or hearing these words, it’s important to know that although this may make you feel horrible, it could actually be an important turning point and an amazing opportunity in your relationship.
In order to understand why this is, I am going to be taking the next few blogs to examine what is behind the complaint “You are not the person I married” and what you can do as a couple to overcome this problem.
Debunking the Myths Behind This Statement
It turns out that behind this statement are some myths about intimate relationships that need to be debunked if you are really interested in creating a fulfilling partnership and staying together for the long haul. In this blog, we’re going to take a look at the first of these myths.
Myth #1: I should be experiencing my partner the same way now that we are far along in the relationship as I did when we were first dating.
This is of course untrue. In the beginning of a romantic relationship, your brain is on drugs, pumping out the perfect neuro-cocktail of dopamine, norepinephrine, oxytocin, and adrenaline. This is nature’s way of ensuring that humans are hopelessly attracted to one another, so that they can get together and mate.
During this early phase of relationship, you see your partner as a blissful fantasy, the person you wish they were rather than how they really are. You are in a state of one-mindedness with your partner, which means that you experience a sense of familiarity and sameness with them. You may feel like you have known each other forever. Think how exciting it is for a couple when they discover that they, “finish each other’s sentences.” This is a really good example of an experience that you may have had in the very beginning of your relationship that makes you feel at one with your partner, like you are in a sense the same person.
Going From Sameness to Differentness Can Be Hard
Although sameness is a natural and healthy phase of relationship, it is still based on a fantasy of who you think the other person is. The truth is that you don’t actually know the other person very well yet. As you and your partner progress into deeper stages of relationship, it’s important that you are able to make the transition from relating to the fantasy of each other to truly understanding the other person. This means that you need to begin to move from the experience of familiarity and oneness that occurs during the early stages of relationship, into a real appreciation of the other person for who they are and how they are different from you. Of course the problem here is that many couples are unable to make that change into being able to recognize the other person in their own right. These couples remain stuck in a static perspective on each other and themselves, unable to progress to the deeper stages of relationship.
Remaining caught in a static perspective on who your partner is may give you a feeling of predictability and comfort in your relationship, but it is going to kill any sense of novelty, freshness, aliveness and spontaneity between the two of you. Couples need a certain level of unpredictability and differentness in order to make it work in the long haul. Otherwise they tend to end up in dull, lifeless marriages.
Get the Support You Need as a Couple
If you are a couple that is stuck in a lifeless relationship and are looking for a couples therapist to walk with you every step of the way so you can reinvigorate your relationship, let’s connect on the phone so I can help you meet your goals much faster.
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I look forward to hearing from you soon!
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