Couples usually need help building and strengthening the ground of their relationship, so they can let go of fantasy and learn to live in reality. This means opening up direct, honest, emotional conversations about what it is like to live with one another that does not blow up in hot defensiveness or peter out in cold withdrawal. It takes strength to hear the ways our partner is disappointed in us or in life and then do something useful with that information. Conversely, it takes maturity to recognize that our partner is not supposed to meet all of our needs nor fit our idealized image of what a spouse should be.
Once we can have an honest exchange, we can change some things and also develop the equanimity of accepting what doesn’t change. Flexibility, a good sense of humor and the habit of reaching for the joy together can put difficulties in perspective returning couples to shared confidence in their happiness together. The commitment of marriage and family involves sacrifice and letting go of childhood projections that “everything will come true,” but it also allows for great joy and deep fulfillment. More than any other arena, it holds our feet to the fire inviting us to finally grow up.