While perusing the New York Times the other day I came across this article. Not only do John Tierney and I share the same surname, we also appear to both be looking deeply into the common trend of changing personalities and the disillusion of one’s needs and wants as they grow older, and how that affects both permanent and semi-permanent relationships.
Tierney appears to be onto the same thing that we here at Life After Married are attempting to get on board with. Why is it that at every age we believe we are a permanent version of ourselves? When we are constantly changing at every age, is it possible that we will ever establish a healthy relationship that will be able to grow with us? Isn’t it uncannily common to sit around a table with girlfriends and reminisce on the ridiculous relationships you once had the displeasure of being a part of? What makes these relationships so comical and the one you are currently in so legitimate? Is it even legitimate at all? Or will you, once again, look back at yourself years down the road and wonder what the hell you were doing all along?
Tierney’s article suggests that “personality traits shift with age. People seemed to be much better at recalling their former selves than at imagining how much they would change in the future.” This is obviously a major factor in the disillusion of a marriage. When you are in a relationship, you never believe that one day you are going to be an entirely different person than the one standing before your spouse on the altar; however, as Tierney’s article suggests, you can never be sure about your changing personality. We are constantly changing and looking back at how different we once were; therefore, how is it possible to ever seek comfort and conformity within a stagnant marriage where one is expected to maintain the promise of being the same person who signed the marriage license. Or in more romantic terms, shouldn’t your loved one take you for what you are and what you will eventually become – someone entirely different from the person that they married?
Wouldn’t marriage, and all relationships for that matter, be far more manageable, if that were the case? What if we knew that the rules of the game were going to change – that the person we fell in love with would still have the same inherent qualities internally but externally would seem drastically, or maybe even minimally different? In the article Daniel T. Gilbert, a psychologist at Harvard states, “what we never seem to realize is that our future selves will look back and think the very same thing about us. At every age we think we’re having the last laugh, and at every age we’re wrong.”
Maybe it’s possible to never have a last laugh in a marriage, or in any long term relationship. Maybe if we knew what we were signing up for an ever changing game of rules and personalities, perhaps things would be more manageable…enjoyable? Dare I say…romantic?
Copyright 2013 Life After Married