Most of us, when we marry, have an understanding that we will have some disagreements, but we cannot imagine ourselves having relationship-threatening levels of conflict. We trust that, because we are so well suited, we will bypass the really serious conflict experienced by our parents or others we’ve known.
We live in a culture that highly prizes autonomy, personal fulfillment and individual freedom. Most people like to keep their options open and resist if choice is restricted in any way. The American Dream is one that inspires people to achieve their potential and imagine what can be, unrestrained by their circumstances. Self-determination is seen as a core right of every human life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is after all, the American promise.
Every person longs to be loved unconditionally and to matter. These two longings drive almost every belief and conversation in marriage. We long for our mate to know us intimately and to desire to move toward us in a way that is deeply affirming and satisfying. We know at our core that we have parts to ourselves that are not so lovely, but we crave the kind of love that can know us thoroughly and remain steady. To be unconditionally loved is the core longing of our created being.
What attracted you more to your mate – the way in which they were similar to you or the way in which they were different? Most of us had a picture of what we were looking for in a mate. What was your picture? What were the most important qualities you were seeking in a mate?