Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers advice for maintaining your mental health.

Kinds of Couples

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Sep 16, 2013 11:31 PM

I've been traveling around the USA, by train, car, and plane, talking with couples and individuals in relationships. Here are some observations:

1. Happy couples who have been together for 30+ years usually have a level of comfort with one another that makes them come across as palpably different from newbies.

 2. Happy couples  are on the same page. There's a lot of agreement and mutual support in their comments. They praise one another. There are no sarcasm or bitter teasing or put-downs.

3. Second marriages tend to be careful, more willing to walk on eggshells and keep the peace than average. They work on tolerance and peace, even when it's difficult, sometimes losing it briefly and recapturing the momentum soon. They are afraid to fail again.

4. Opposites attract and repel . People get together because they see something they don't have in the other. As Jung said, "We marry our own shadow: Then, they're irritated by the differences in style or values They either choose to overcome, compromise and bend, usually one making more sacrifices than the other, or give up. An example is the homebody with the adventurer. The homebody provides stability and the adventurer provides drama and variety of experience. They extend one another. Hopefully, they can appreciate it.

5. Then, there are the couples who really come together with the same values, thinking styles and goals, for example, couples who center their lives around religion, music, travel, mutually agreeable careers, or children . Their relationships are smooth, though each may lose a sense of individuality along the way, as they blend.

6. The most challenging are the recently married or connected, older couples who are blending families. There's some controversy apparent in their every interaction  Those who got together on the rebound, saving each other from loneliness or the desolation of betrayal or rejection, are the most vulnerable. Their bond is shallower, though it may grow with time. They are like acquaintances, struggling to be more.

It's interesting watching people in the field of life and quite different from working with them in the office. The perspective gained is that of seeing relationships which are good to barely working manage to cope with their life together and work on it, as opposed to people who are crying out for help.

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