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Why your marriage will succeed (or fail) Why your marriage will succeed (or fail)
by Joseph Gatt
2020-09-08 08:22:09
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Not all bad marriages fail. There's something called “empty shell” marriages, which are basically two people who stay married despite little or no emotional connection.

There are three types of empty shell marriages:

-Couples lead completely independent lives (which can involve adultery, but a lot of times there is no cheating involved). Man greets the wife, moves to his study. Maybe they'll eat dinner together or separately. Maybe they'll chat about the kids if necessary. Maybe they'll share a bed. But little or no interaction or conversation takes place.

maria01_400-Couples argue all the time. Wife comes home, lectures husband on how he should be behaving. Husband yells back. This scene is repeated almost daily, yet they stay together.

-Couples live separately. Some couples remain married, but live in separate homes. Husband gets a job in a different town, begs the wife not to follow him. They call each other once in a blue moon. Adultery could be involved, but a lot of times, couples remain faithful, just lead completely separate lives, rarely see each other.

I'm 36 (but feel like a 16 year old). I'm at that age where most of my friends have been married for the last 10 years (most of my wedding invitations were in 2007-2014). And I've done the occasional couples counseling, taken notes, meditated upon my failed relationships, and here's what I came out with.

Most couples get married because they are in love, or have some kind of attraction to each other. But for a marriage to succeed here's what it should have:

An emotional connection: Duh. Love is about emotions. Most couples get together because they have strong emotional feelings towards each other. Some can have stronger emotional connections than their partner has towards them.

But relationships and marriage tend to be about strong emotional feelings.

BUT. A lot of couples get together because they have strong emotional feelings towards each other, and leave it at that.

It's not just about emotional feelings.

A strong personal connection: How many people have come up to me and confessed “I'm in love with my partner, but I have no idea who he/she is.”

A lot of couples have that strong emotional connection, but they fail at getting to know each other.

You'll meet a lot of couples who are in love, but they have no idea what their partner likes or dislikes, how their partner spends their free time, what their partner deals with at work, what background their partner hails from.

Back when I was a teacher in the Arab world, quite a few female colleagues (and a couple of male colleagues) had feelings for me. Not that I was interested, but they did not stand a chance with me.

Why? Because despite the fact they seemed to have some sort of emotional attraction towards me, they could not frame me as an individual.

Those guys and girls seemed to reinvent themselves as individuals as well. So with experience, you end up learning that love isn't just about emotions, it's also about getting to know the individual.

So if you hide too much stuff from your partner, or if your partner is the secretive type, marriage won't be a happy one.

A strong organizational connection: Love and marriage is also about getting organized.

Some couples have a strong emotional connection, a strong personal connection (they know almost everything about each other). But they can not agree on how to get organized around the household.

Organization is not just about religion or society or community or rituals. It's also about running the household, getting work done in the house, and getting organized in their free time.

My ex- and I failed miserably because we could not get organized. I wanted rituals and an organized life, my ex- was more about improvisation. I'd want to lay out a plan for the week, and she would tell me what to do five minutes before getting it done.

So you have those couples who have the emotional and personal connection, but who can't agree on how to get their life organized.

This can be very dangerous, can lead to stress, losing their jobs, messing up their finances, and to other disasters because the couple could not agree on how to organize their activities, finances and life goals.

So for a couple to survive, they have to agree on how to get life organized. That involves rituals, religious and social activities, but also life goals, financial behavior, and smaller things like time management and how to get organized around hobbies and leisure activities.

A strong connection involving tasks: Life is as much about leisure as it is about getting tasks done.

Many couples have strong emotional, personal and organizational connections, but couldn't agree on how to get their day to day tasks done.

They can't agree on what TV program to watch, on what to cook, on how to get stuff fixed, on how to get chores done, on how to fill out applications, and things grow bigger as they can't agree on what activities should be done or on where to spend the weekend.

How do successful couples go about this? Most will settle for “yes” that is agree with whatever suggestion the partner comes up with, even when the suggestion is not one they necessarily agree with or their best option.


I've had my uh-oh moments when I meet the following couples:

They don't love each other! I've met quite a few couples where I saw absolutely no emotional connection. Actually I saw more resentment than love.

They don't know each other! I've met a lot of couple where I seemed to know a lot more about the two individuals than they know about each other.

They organize completely differently! I've met even more couples where the husband has one set of rules for life, and the wife (or husband) has a completely different set of rules involving how life should flow.

They can't get anything done together! Finally, I've met a few couples who, when asked to get something done together, can't agree on how to get it done.

Point is: If you're in love, that's a good start. But make sure you get to know each other and can get organized together. 

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