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Can Marriage Support Wholeness of the Individual?

This may be going out on a limb, and yet I would love to have this discussion so I could better understand the dynamics of men & women in romantic relationships. So here goes . . . is it possible for people – particularly couples – to interact harmoniously and authentically in intimate relationships, in the face of differing perspectives?

A quick and very brief look at my background includes the fact that I have been married twice: the first time ended in divorce after 4 years (we had no kids, so no children were harmed in that separation), the 2nd time, in which I was gifted my 3 wonderful kids (who are now adults) ended unexpectedly after almost 20 years when he died. Husband #2 was a good man, a good dad, and a good provider. Still, we had our differences and I will admit to being prone to complaining about him when I couldn’t figure out how to talk to him to reconcile some of those differences. I say all this just to state up front that I have not always been the ideal partner. The questions I am about to raise are genuine – I’d love to know if answers exist and what they might be.

Long before my husband died, I had been around married people when they were away from their spouses, talking about their spouses in uncomplimentary ways. Women would talk about how hard it is to keep their husbands looking good (the need to tell them how to dress), or keep their homes beautiful (men don’t get to choose furniture or décor), or spend their time wisely (demeaning a husband if he’s interested in a sport of rough hobby if she doesn’t share that interest). Men would talk about how they just have to do what they’re told in order to keep peace at home.

My question is, does this really work for people? Some folks stay married for a long time, sometimes decades, and yet they talk about each other and the relationship with such helplessness. Is this really the best one can hope for? I think I’d rather be alone than believe that my husband is out bad-mouthing me to his buddies and the store clerks, or that I’ve nothing better to do than run my husband’s life while complaining about it to my gal pals and the store clerks – I bring up store clerks because that has most often been me, the store clerk, when witnessing spouses verbally abuse their absent partners. I find it deeply unsettling. Am I missing something – like did someone forget to tell me that marriage is a game and these are the rules? If that’s the case, it’s a stupid game and I want no part in it.

So what am I missing here? Please join the conversation, I’d love to hear some viewpoints other than my own. Can men and women – or people in general – get along? Can we learn to talk thru and resolve our differences? If not, what is it that makes being in this type of relationship worth the cost of not being allowed to express one's opinion and be our authentic selves in our own homes?

Please comment below.