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Clueless or Clued In: What Kind of Couple Are You?

Here’s what clued-in partners should know about lasting relationships.

The timeworn cliché tells us that “ignorance is bliss.” That may be true in some situations, but it is downright dangerous when it comes to romantic relationships. After all, if you’re getting serious about a person and thinking about settling down together, you want to be clear-eyed and fully informed.

Chances are you’ve run across couples who seem clueless and naïve about what it takes to make a long-term relationship–especially marriage–thrive year after year. Successful relationships require both individuals to honestly assess their attitudes and expectations. With that in mind, let’s look at four typical fallacies some people carry into marriage:

Clueless: “My partner may not be everything I’ve always dreamed of, but at least I’ll be married!”
Clued In: If you settle for a second-best spouse, you’re going to have a second-rate marriage.
Does that sound too harsh? Many singles say, “If I can’t find a person who has all the qualities I want, then maybe I should lower my standards.” Here is what they actually mean: “I’m tired of being single. I want to get married! If I have to settle for less, so be it.” A take-what-I-can-get approach to relationships is a set-up for major disappointment later on. Singles should determine precisely the kind of person they need to be happy and then hold to these criteria to the very end. Make this your marriage mantra: Avoid a mess—don’t settle for less.

Clueless: “Marriage will bring me the happiness and fulfillment I’ve always longed for.” 
 Clued In: If you’re not happy and content before marriage, a spouse isn’t going to solve the problem.

Many singles believe that finding Mr. or Miss Right will complete them and make them whole. But deep-down contentment always occurs within yourself. It has everything to do with spiritual and emotional well-being, and it is not dependent upon any relationship or other external factor. If you’re looking for someone else to bring you fulfillment, you’re setting yourself up for even more struggle and discontent. It is up to you—not a partner—to bring about your contentment.
Clueless: “After we’re married, my partner will change.”
Clued In: Maybe, but don’t count on it.

If there are qualities about your partner’s personality or behavior that you question—such as jealousy, temper, irresponsibility, dishonesty, or stubbornness—ask yourself if you are willing to spend the rest of your life dealing with these problems. Obviously, if the person you are considering has a drug or drinking problem or trouble with sexual integrity, you should make absolutely sure that he or she has worked through the problem. Do people change and grow? Sure, they do. But if you go into marriage counting on your partner to change, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise.
Clueless: “Our ecstatic, madly-in-love feelings will continue.”
Clued In: Over time, passionate feelings come and go.

It is normal and natural for intense romantic feelings to wane. But some people never survive the dissolution of passionate love. They are addicted to the excitement, so they keep looking for a new fix. If you understand that passion is like a wave that rolls in and out, you can build a relationship based a real-life qualities, not supercharged emotions that fluctuate.

If you intend to make a long-term relationship work, you certainly want to be clued in, not clueless. Carefully think through what misconceptions and misnomers you might be holding on to. Go forward with clarity and confidence.