A Matter of Perspective
Dating couples moan, “Gee, Ron, are you trying to scare us out of getting married?” while married stepfamily couples marvel, “You are describing our life exactly! Have you been peeking in our windows?”
The dating couple feels like I’m being negative; the married couple is relieved that someone finally told them they are normal. And when I have tracked a couple from dating to marriage, their response transformed to, “We just thought you were being a pessimist,” or “We wish we would have listened to you better.”
How could perspective make such a huge difference? Well, premarital couples have high hopes, are consumed by the fog of love, and expect positive things to happen; it’s the nature of being in love. Married couples, on the other hand, are living in an actual stepfamily. They cannot gloss over the challenges. It’s the difference between expectation and reality.
The research that David Olson and I did for The Remarriage Checkup explained and validated the perspective shift. We discovered that couple satisfaction during dating is highly correlated with the couple’s relationship. However, marital satisfaction (i.e., once the couple is living in a stepfamily) is increasingly correlated with stepfamily and stepparenting dynamics that surround the couple’s relationship. As the context of their relationship changes, so does their satisfaction—and their perspective.
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If you would like help with your marriage, blended marriage, and life in a stepfamily, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.