Thursday, November 17, 2011

Emotional Maturity and Divorce

My spouse has been married to me for over 25 years. The relationship is symmetric: I've been married to her for precisely the same amount of time. It certainly isn't reflexive: we're may be married to each other but I'm not married to myself.  And it isn't transitive either; if I was married to someone else, that wouldn't mean that my two wives would be married (and anyway that would be bigamy). Therefore:

Marriage is Not An Equivalence Relation 

Look, I'm not bragging about it.   I'm no more worthy of accolades on this matter than any one of my divorced friends and relatives.  Life has not always a bed of roses either;  just as in the economy,  externalities shift and expectations change,  excitement can give way to disappointment, disappointment to grief, and new realities set in.  But in our 25 years of marriage, we've been witness to a great deal of divorce, which substantively impacted our family and relationships.

No matter how close you imagine yourself to be to someone, you're not that person and they are not you. The unity is plural. Perceptions matter a little, to be sure, but having a good grasp of reality and an emotional balance between empathy and self-interest matters much more. That means taking time to be reflective together, actively exercising empathy and not just entertaining yourselves on a date night and slugging through chores the rest of your time. Or in the case of those struggling with a loss or divorce, taking a year off to normalize your emotional response to relationships.

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