Couples 1 October, 2018 Maria Clara Restrepo E.
In order to foster lasting relationships, couples should understand the expectations they have of each other and freely express what they want. It’s not about changing each other, it’s about finding a balance and compromise that is best for both.
Medical advisor: Claudia María Moreno Gómez – Psychologist, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare
Being able to share moments with someone that you deeply love is one of the best feelings there is to experience. Having someone’s company makes our life so special, that we often decide to leave the comfort of being alone to becoming involved and developing a new life as a couple. But just as people decide to get married or live together, they also decide to separate, which is what makes it so common to question and be afraid of saying “yes.”
As psychologist Claudia María Moreno Gómez explains, “I think lots of relationships begin with the intention of being lasting ones. We don’t start a relationship thinking that it could end. Longing, hope, friendship, expectations and fear can arise when you think that all those hopes and dreams could collapse all of the sudden. This fear can occur when we discover that our goals have changed.”
When our expectations and goals seem to be in alignment, and unions finally form, other fears also tend to surface. It is not easy to deal with qualities in the other that could not be perceived prior to living together as they were overlooked out of the need to have company.
While the fear of failure is normal, focusing too much on it can make it feel like the other has too many defects to the point of exaggeration. “When two people want to share their lives with each other, they do so with the belief that they have things in common – their identities, they adapt to each other easily and communication is also comes easily. But often, these expectations are broken as people realize that their interests change, that there are challenges, that communication does not always flow, problems arise that hadn’t before, and the charm begins to wear off,” Moreno states.
The depth of these inconsistencies can’t be discovered if the fear of failure comes with communication problems that build up and are masked in silence in order to avoid arguments or expressing problems so that the other does not get hurt.
Other fears are rooted in idealizing the other and trying to make the partner fit what was originally thought about them, but was never addressed when deciding to be together. “I think that the fear of accepting the other is very common and that there is a constant desire to change what you don’t like: how the person sleeps, eats, relates and interacts with others, whether they drink or are rude… Behaviors that we think will change when we live together, which doesn’t happen,” the psychologist explains.
The problem with these differences and when our expectations are not met, is the thought that everything will resolve with time, which can trigger anger and resentment that can make it challenging to live together. The following are some of the main reasons why one in every three marriages in Colombia end in divorce. (You can also read: Getting over a breakup).
The fear of failing as a couple can be overcome if there is a willingness to compromise, to accept the other without trying to change them and to respect their individuality. “Personality is nonnegotiable, but interests are. The fundamental essence of your personality is something that cannot be negotiated. It is possible to reach agreements about issues that hinder good communication and cause worldviews to clash. Specifically, I refer to when, for example, your partner does not like your family or friends. While I can’t cast them aside, I can accept my partner and the fact that they may not attend certain events,” the expert explains.
Having clarity about how to determine what each person can compromise on – understood as acceptance and understanding, not as sacrificing – can help to overcome fears and allow the relationship to flourish, where each can truly be the person that they want to be with for the rest of their lives.
What issues should be talked about?
Some topics that couples often overlook when they begin a relationship that should be addressed before deciding to live together include finances, whether or not to have kids and how to raise them, and making sure your short and long-term goals align.
65 thousand marriages, approximately, occur in Colombia each year, while separations are at about 25,000.