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The purpose of a wedding ceremony, especially a religious one, is to declare one’s love and commitment to one another in front of friends, family and God. That commitment is meant to be lifelong. As in, “Till death do us part.” In years gone by, that declaration was taken very seriously and people seldom got divorced. Perhaps miserable marriages were the cause of more murders and suicides but the divorce rate was lower than it is today. Or perhaps like the Meat Loaf lyric says, people might be, “praying for the end of time so I can end my time with you.”

Marriage is a beautiful thing when it works well. It works when two people are very compatible and happy with each other. They might challenge each other and support each other in growing and becoming their best selves. Sometimes people just know when a person is their perfect match and that is awesome. However, life changes and circumstances change and people change. Often that initial compatibility and love doesn’t last. Sometimes people want one thing at a certain point in life and later they want something else. Besides physical attraction, emotional, mental and spiritual compatibility, there is also common goals or support of the other’s goals. Common interests or openness to hearing about the other person’s interests. There is an understanding and a willingness to give the other person what they want in terms of their love language.

Another important aspect of marriage is the yin and yang of the relationship. The male and the female aspects. This does not always relate to female and male gender. Sometimes the woman in the relationship has more yang qualities and takes charge of most family decisions. That’s okay as long as the male is okay with that and willing to relinquish control. Even in homosexual relationships there is almost always one partner who has more male energy while the other has more female energy. Sometimes partners can take on one role in some situations and switch roles in other situations. It works so long as both people are on the same page.

It can be a deal breaker if both people compete for dominance in the relationship. Sometimes a very strong female can initially be viewed as confident and attractive to a male but after a while that same attractive quality can make the man feel emasculated. That feeling of powerlessness and impotence can really lead to sexual impotence and dysfunction. On the other hand, a female might be attracted to a caring, tender man who can show his emotions but after a while she starts to see him as weak. If she is feminine, soft and submissive, she will want a man who is dominant and who can take charge. She wants to feel safe and protected. The yin and the yang is a delicate balance that must be recognized and valued.

If the yin and yang balance is upset, can the marriage be saved? It might depend on how ingrained in the personality these qualities are. The difficulty comes when a highly assertive woman who projects Yang qualities is only attracted to strong men. The man would have to be ultra-macho to create enough of a contrast to the females’ strong nature. He might be very hard to find or he might be too aggressive and possibly abusive. In the other case a passive man would have to find a woman who is ultra-feminine and submissive. There are many gradients in the spectrum of femininity and masculinity. And sometimes people have to seek a partner from a different culture. It seems like the American culture has been gradually creating the ideal that the male or Yang is preferable to the female or the yin. These cultural messages can wreak havoc on the pairing of couples which just adds to the dissatisfaction in relationships and the high divorce rate.

What’s the solution? Like most problems, solutions begin with self-awareness and an understanding of the situation. The value of the feminine is increasing in terms of being heart-centered and nurturing but women are also encouraged to be strong and assertive and stand up for their rights. So the key is to be fluid in the roles we take on. A woman might be strong and powerful at work but she knows how to let that go when she gets home. Being feminine can be powerful because it helps her partner feel great about himself. He might feel more motivated to please his partner and take care of her needs and wants. A man might not have to change roles quite as much as a working woman but there is still more kindness and nurturing involved with being a father and a husband than in being an employee. Women are attracted to a man’s strength as well as his ability to care-for and protect her and her family.  If a woman is incapable or unwilling to take on the female role that her partner craves, the relationship will suffer. If a man feels weak, passive or scared of confrontation and his partner is looking for a strong man, the relationship will suffer. The choice is up to the individuals.