For the past several decades, I have referred to the period of adjustment through which men and women go during a period of establishing an intimate relationship as knocking off the rough edges.
If you know anything about wooden gears – often found in old mills and factories of bygone era – you are aware that older wooden gears generally mesh together better as the teeth age than when they were new. Wooden gears are unique in that regard.
The analogy of wooden gears more closely approximates the adjustment needed for men and women than, for example, metal gears – as in an old-fashioned standard automobile transmission – which wear out the more they rub against each other.
I asked my wife why she thought we had managed to stay together for so long. Her reply was that we were patient with each other. That is probably as good an answer as you will find in explaining longevity.
Couples often come together like metal gears – each wanting his or her way. The longer they remain in that mindset, grinding against each other, the less chance there is for the necessary we to develop.
From their various perspectives, people from different educational backgrounds or different schools of thought often argue like ships blowing their horns as they pass in the night. While this is not always catastrophic in outcomes, it can be absolutely deadly for an interpersonal relationship with regard to matters that affect the relationship.
One thing that can be difficult for some couple is a wife having considerably more formal education than her husband. One of my favorites is a Ph.D. in economics married to a truck driver.
Another thing that is quite deadly to relationships is the interjection legal parlance as an authority of interpersonal disputes. As an adversarial system, the law is designed to determine winners and losers. There is no we in the legal system.
Law consists of a peculiar form of logic – often at odds with common understanding – deciding who is right and who is wrong. An example of the inane is a legal definition of insanity that is quaint at best.
Further more, legal remedies are enforced. Arbitration, mediation, and negotiation – which, on an informal level, are necessary in marriage – are ;alternatives to the legal process. Yet, numerous individuals in marriages insist on presenting their points of view as if they were lawyers trying to persuade a jury.
Even worse, there are those who insist on firing their partner when they come to loggerheads.
Marriage has its own logic. At one time, the implications of that unique logic were recognized. Today, they are less understood–even ignored.
The unique logic of marriage explains why a rift can develop in the relationship that may be settled quite satisfactorily with yelling, spanking, and lovemaking – in that order and within a relatively short span of time without airing the couple’s dirty linen in public. In no other human interaction does that combination of events make sense. In fact, beyond the context of family, the sequence is unworkable.
As my wife indicated, patience is the key. Absent a willingness to give more than one gets dooms many marriages.
Patience should be among the first lessons teenagers learn from their first loves. First boyfriends and girlfriends are often narcissistic creatures. The relationship is often about them rather than the other person.
In time, some people get beyond an all-consuming me attitude. Others do not. Those who do, make good mates. The rest are doomed to failed relationships that are akin to the common sense definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different outcome.
Since few people see things exactly alike, a curious question emerges: If we ever found that perfect specimen of our dreams, would he or she really want us? The truth is probably not. Marriage make in heaven are usually the result of a lot of work on earth.