How to Make Love to the Wrong Person

So did you marry the wrong person? (See my last blog post or read the NY Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/29/opinion/sunday/why-you-will-marry-the-wrong-person.html?mwrsm=Email .) If you did marry the wrong person, can you still make love?

I believe there have to be enough initial commonalities for relationships to work, like values, life goals, and attraction.  But even then, relationships can be challenging. I believe some relationships are mismatched, but far fewer than we may be inclined to conclude or use as an excuse. William Doherty (Take Back Your Marriage), refers to the modern consumer marriage mentality where more people in marriages are inclined to say: “My needs are not being met. I deserve more. And without examining their own contributions to the marriage crisis, decide to divorce.

But even if major commonalities are matched, relationships can be challenging.  EVERY relationship has a cycle.  In the beginning, you fell in love with your spouse or were drawn to her/him.  You anticipated their call, wanted their touch, and liked their idiosyncrasies.

Falling in love with your spouse wasn’t hard.  In fact, it was a completely spontaneous experience. You didn’t have to DO anything.  That’s why it’s called “falling” in love–because it’s happening TO YOU.

Falling in love is easy.  It’s a passive, spontaneous experience.

But after a few years of marriage, the euphoric passion of love fades–the “euphoric” passion. It’s a natural cycle of EVERY relationship.  Slowly but surely, phone calls become a bother, touch is not always welcome, and your spouse’s idiosyncrasies, instead of being cute, drive you nuts.

The symptoms of this stage vary with every relationship, but if you think about your marriage, you will notice a dramatic difference between the initial stage when you were in love and a much duller or even angry subsequent stage.

At this point, you and/or your spouse might start asking, “Did I marry the right person?” And as you and your spouse reflect on the euphoria of the love you once had, you may begin to desire that experience with someone else.  This is when marriages break down.  People blame their spouses for their unhappiness and look outside their marriage for fulfillment.,

Extramarital fulfillment comes in all shapes and sizes.  Infidelity is the most obvious.  But sometimes people turn to work, church, a hobby, a friendship, excessive TV or abusive substances.

But the answer to this dilemma does NOT lie outside your marriage.  It lies within it.

I’m not saying that you couldn’t fall in love with someone else.  You could.  AND TEMPORARILY you’d feel better.  But you’d probably be in the same situation a few years later.  Because…..THE KEY TO SUCCEEDING IN MARRIAGE IS NOT FINDING THE RIGHT PERSON; IT’S LEARNING TO LOVE THE PERSON YOU FOUND….. Yes, that’s a radical statement but I believe it is the case most of the time.

SUSTAINING love is not a passive or spontaneous experience.  It will never JUST HAPPEN TO YOU. You can’t “find” LASTING love.  You have to “MAKE” it day in and day out.  That’s why we have the expression “the labor of love.”  Because it takes time, effort, and energy.  But most importantly, it takes WISDOM. You have to know WHAT TO DO to make your marriage work.

Make no mistake about it.  Love is NOT a mystery.  There are specific things you can do to succeed in your marriage.  What do those things do?  They nurture emotional connection and bonding– even when–especially when there are differences and arguments.

Just as there are physical laws of the universe such as gravity, there are also laws for relationships. Just as the right diet and exercise program makes you physically stronger, certain habits and responses in your relationship WILL make your marriage stronger.  It’s a direct cause and effect.  If you know and apply the habits, IF YOU KNOW HOW TO EMOTIONALLY CONNECT WITH EACH OTHER AND BE VULNERABLE WITH EACH OTHER, the results are predictable:  You can “make” love.  This is what I like to think I am doing when I work with couples:  I am teaching them how to “make” love–even with an imperfect partner.

Jim Covington

Jim Covington

Jim Covington (M.Div. MA, LMFT) has been helping couples improve their relationships for more than 30 years. He holds degrees are in psychology and theology, is a licensed New York marriage and family therapist, a clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists and has been trained in multiple approaches to marital/couples therapy and family therapy.

He has completed Level 3 Practicum Training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy, externship training with the International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples and PREP (Prevention & Relationship Enhancement Program), and employs Solution Oriented Brief Therapy as taught by Michelle Weiner-Davis.
Jim Covington

Jim Covington

Jim Covington (M.Div. MA, LMFT) has been helping couples improve their relationships for more than 30 years. He holds degrees are in psychology and theology, is a licensed New York marriage and family therapist, a clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists and has been trained in multiple approaches to marital/couples therapy and family therapy.

He has completed Level 3 Practicum Training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy, externship training with the International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples and PREP (Prevention & Relationship Enhancement Program), and employs Solution Oriented Brief Therapy as taught by Michelle Weiner-Davis.