I’m taking a bit of a risk with this post. I don’t typically dish out a lot of relationship advice, but here’s something I’ve been chewing on lately: Island Couples.
I regularly have to practice the discipline of getting my head out of my own sand to see what is going on around me. Many of us live in isolated, compartmentalized worlds. It’s hard not too. I guess it should be no surprise then that island couples exist. You know the ones–pairs of people creating a “perfect” world for themselves as if they live on a deserted island.
I know how comfortable it can be to spend 99% of your time with that special someone. Chemistry is a powerful force. We all know couples that have tried to live solely on the high of emotions and sex, never creating a depth to their union. In the beginning it can feel so right and good to do that, and hey, a honeymoon phase is natural, but one that lasts indefinitely probably isn’t.
Please understand. I’m not attacking healthy power couples or couples made up of two extreme introverts. That is not the point here. But I have to confess that talk about being completed by another person or worse–teaching young people about finding “the one”–makes me a little crazy.
I know. This a blog written by a divorced 40-something. True. But, I have learned a few things along the way, and as I get closer to merging my life with someone these days, writing this is an important reminder even for me.
So if you really love the person next to you, and you are hoping for a long shelf life in your relationship, just consider this a warning flare.
He cannot be and she cannot be your all and all. Don’t kid yourself and think that you have a healthy relationship when the two of you no longer (or rarely) hang out with your friends individually. If you haven’t called your best friend (your new romantic partner doesn’t count) in weeks or months, that should be a sign to you. If you have decided that you really don’t need to see family that often even though they were a big part of your normal life before you started this relationship, pay attention.
And if you’re one of those couples that single people can’t stand to be around, that should be a sign too. It might take a little bit of work and acute awareness on your part, but you shouldn’t be ostracizing your other friends who haven’t found a special someone. If any of this feels a bit too familiar, it may be time to get off the island.
There is a reason why community is important. That phrase, “it takes a village,” is not just for raising children. It’s for raising a good, healthy, long-term relationship as well.
When I was young and married, one my big failures centered around a lack of intimate community. We didn’t have community close enough to us. When we went through the hard stuff, we kept it to ourselves because we were too embarrassed to let the world know that things weren’t going perfectly. We didn’t turn to other couples or our single friends when we needed them the most, and we certainly did not turn to family or our church.
It is one of my only regrets about the way I handled the dissolution of my marriage. I really wish I had let people be closer to us so they could help us through. I know it may have all ended up the same way, but I have to believe we would have felt more supported and that we might have learned some marital lessons faster if we had only stopped living in isolation.
Here are the things: You will get sick of her crap. You will be disgusted by one of his habits. You will eventually (believe it or not) want some time with someone else. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s really good. Find the people that support you and love you both as a couple and as individuals. Lose the negative people in your life and find some new friends and new couples to hang out with if you need to, but don’t be an island.
When I think of islands, I think of warm tropical breezes, happy little umbrella drinks, good food, and great friends–the kind you like to travel around the world with. And the bonus? Well, the bonus is that awesome someone is there to be a part of the scene, an addition to the friendly, supportive community that is all around you.