Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Three Year Ugly

I had my therapist appointment the other night.

At the end of the appointment I asked her, out of curiosity if there is anything significant about the four-year mark in a romantic relationship.

Why? you ask?

Well, my first, and only other serious relationship, ended at around the four year mark.
FireMan's first marriage, and only other serious relationship, ended at around the four year mark (for the relationship, not the marriage).
And here we are at the four year mark of our relationship, experiencing issues.

She said the three year mark is actually more significant. Typically (but remember, every relationship is different), at the three year mark you really are one. You've melded together thru your shared experiences, and really are a part of one another. In fact, she said, ending a three year "dating" relationship is often more traumatic than ending a two year marriage. Why? Because she said after year three, if you break up, it feels much more like you are ripping off a part of yourself, whereas before that it is painful, but you have still maintained separate identities, so it tends to be more of a parting of two people. Does that make sense?

Anyway, so she said what happens after that three year mark, because you are one, you start to see the other's uglies. The stuff love blinded you to before. The stuff they hid from you before (intentionally or unintentionally). Just everything. All the uglies start coming out & becoming visible. So then you have to re-identify your relationship. Reassess. Decide whether or not you can live with your partner's uglies. And depending on how ugly they are, decide if & how to deal with them.

I thought that was interesting, and have been contemplating it ever since, both in our marriage, and in my former relationship. Deciding whether or not I think it was true for us.

I really do think it was true in my first relationship. I think we both got too comfortable with each other, and got a little selfish, and consequently got ugly. I think we both were so assured the other would never, ever, ever leave that we stopped "dating", stopped taking that person's needs & desires into consideration. Maybe. I don't know. That was a complicated situation, but I could see that. Maybe.

In this marriage? Maybe. I definitely think we both got lazy, in regards to our relationship. But I'm still working thru exactly what happened to cause our current issues, so until that's done, I don't know that I can say the three-year-uglies were a definite influence. But it's definitely possible.

What about you? Does the three-year-uglies make sense to you? Any experiences to share?

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